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New Testament Survey: Gospels - Lesson 24

Silent Years & Baptism

Except for the accounts of a couple of events in Jesus' childhood, the Gospels are mostly silent about the years before Jesus began his public ministry. Luke records the story of 12 year old Jesus in the temple to show that already, you can see something different about Jesus. Jesus' public ministry began when John the Baptist baptized Jesus publicly in the Jordan River.

Robert Stein
New Testament Survey: Gospels
Lesson 24
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Silent Years & Baptism

The Silent Years and Baptism

I. The silent years

A. The boy Jesus in the temple

B. Sinlessness

C. No Miracles

D. Siblings

E. Languages of Jesus

1. Aramaic

2. Greek

F. Tempted

II. The Baptism of Jesus

A. John the Baptist

B. Baptized by John

C. Baptism as an anointing of Jesus

D. Baptized with the Holy Spirit


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  • The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record some of the same stories and even use the same wording in sections. They also each have material that is unique, and the chronology is different in some places. Both the purpose of each gospel and the role of oral and written tradition play a role in understanding the similarities and differences.

  • The Gospel of Mark is shorter than the other Gospels and some of the grammar and theology is unique. There are also significant portions of Mark that are contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

  • Discussion of the extensive similarities between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It's possible that Mark was already written and they used that as a source. It's aslo likely that they had in common other oral and written sources of what Jesus did and taught. 

  • Some time passed between the ascension of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels because there was no need for a written account while the eyewitnesses were still alive. In that culture, oral tradition was the primary method of preserving history. Form critics also note that it is likely that it is likely that many of the narratives and sayings of Jesus circulated independently.

  • Form criticism is the method of classifying literature by literary pattern to determine its original form and historical context in order to interpret its meaning accurately. The Gospels were not written to be objective biographies. They omit large portions of the life of Jesus, they include accounts of miraculous events and they have a purpose to demonstrate that Jesus is both God and human.

  • Redaction criticism focuses on evaluating how a writer has seemingly shaped and molded a narrative to express his theological goals. Examining how Matthew and Luke used passages from Mark can give you insight into their theology and their purpose for writing their Gospel.  

  • Studying the background and theological emphases of the Gospel of Mark helps us to understand the central message of his Gospel. The central point of the Gospel of Mark is the death of Jesus when he was crucified. This event happened because it was a divine necessity in God's plan to redeem humanity. It's likely that the Gospel of Mark is a written record of the apostle Peter's account. 

  • The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes how Jesus' life, death and resurrection fulfilled prophecies that were made in the Old Testament. Matthew also shows concern for the church and has a strong eschatological emphasis. 

  • Luke emphasizes the great loving concern of God for the oppressed, such as tax collectors, physically impaired, women and Samaritans. He warns of the dangers of riches and emphasizes the ministry of the Holy Spirit. 

  • John's Gospel focuses on Christology and emphasizes dualism and eschatology.  John has long pericopes, clear statements about the identity of Jesus and a number of stories not found in the synoptic Gospels. 

  • By studying the background and comparing the text of the synoptic gospels, we can be confident of their authenticity. Many of the accounts in the Gospels appear in multiple Gospels and are confirmed by separate witnesses. Details in the narratives and parables are consistent with the culture and common practices of the time in that region.  

  • In order to understand Jesus' teaching, it is important to understand how he uses exaggeration and determine when he is using exaggeration to make a point. An exaggeration is something that is literally impossible and sometimes conflicts with teachings of the Old Testament or other teachings of Jesus. They often use idiomatic language that had a specific meaning to the original hearers. 

  • The Gospels record how Jesus used different literary forms to communicate his teachings. He communicated effectively with everyone including children, common people, religious leaders and foreigners. He used a variety of literary devices to communicate in a way that was effective and memorable. (This class was taught by a teaching assistant of Dr. Stein's but his name was not provided.) 

  • It's important to know how to interpret parables to accurately understand what Jesus was trying to teach. At different times in history, people have used different paradigms to interpret parables. Each parable has one main point. To interpret the parable, seek to understand what Jesus meant, what the evangelist meant and what God wants to teach you today.

  • Dr. Stein uses the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of how to apply the four rules of interpreting parables. He also applies the four rules to interpret the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, the ten virgins, the unjust steward and the laborers in the vineyard. 

  • Jesus used different literary forms to communicate with people. It's important to know how to interpret these literary forms, including parables, to accurately understand what Jesus was trying to teach. The rule of end stress is one factor in determining the main teaching of a parable. Dr. Stein describes two parts of a parable as the, "picture part" and the "reality part." 

  • The kingdom of God is God's kingdom invading the earthly kingdom. In the Gospels, there are both "realized" passages and "future" passages. There is a tension between the "now" and "not yet" and it is important to emphasize each aspect equally.

  • Jesus' teaching about the fatherhood of God reveals for us a tension between reverence and intimacy. Jesus shows his reverence for God by not using the name of God even when referring to God. When he refers to God as Father, it is an indication of a personal relationship. 

  • Jesus does not provide an organized ethical system, but his ethical teachings are scattered throughout the Gospels. Sometimes they seem to be contradictory, until you look at them more closely. He emphasized the need for a new heart and the importance of loving God and our "neighbor." Jesus upheld the validity of the Law but was opposed to the oral traditions. 

  • Implicit Christology is what Jesus reveals of himself and his understanding of himself by his actions words and deeds. Jesus demonstrates his authority over the three sacred aspects of Israel which are the temple, the Law and the Sabbath. 

  • Explicit Christology deals with what he reveals concerning his understanding of himself by the use of various titles. Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word, Messiah. The titles, Son of God and Son of Man refer both to his human nature and divine nature. 

  • The Chronology of Jesus' life in the Gospels begins with his birth and ends with his resurrection. How you explain the miracles of Jesus depends on your presuppositions. He performed miracles to heal sicknesses and also miracles showing his authority over nature. 

  • The birth of Christ is an historical event. The virgin birth of Jesus is a fundamental aspect of his nature and ministry. The details of the birth narrative in Luke are consistent with historical events. 

  • Except for the accounts of a couple of events in Jesus' childhood, the Gospels are mostly silent about the years before Jesus began his public ministry. Luke records the story of 12 year old Jesus in the temple to show that already, you can see something different about Jesus. Jesus' public ministry began when John the Baptist baptized Jesus publicly in the Jordan River.

  • The three temptations that Satan put to Jesus were significant to him and instructive to us. Jesus had a specific purpose in mind in the way he called his disciples and the fact that he chose 12.

  • After Simon Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, Jesus begins teaching about his death and focuses his efforts on teaching the twelve. The Transfiguration was a significant event because the pre-existent glory of Jesus broke through and it was also a preview of future glory.

  • The events surrounding Jesus' "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem were the beginning of the week leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection. When Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, he was rejecting the sacrificial system, reforming temple worship and performing an act of judgment.

  • At the Last Supper, Jesus celebrated with his disciples by eating the Passover meal. He reinterpreted it to show how it pointed to him as being the perfect Lamb of God, the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all people. When we celebrate the Lord's supper, there is a focus of looking back at the significance of what Jesus did and how the Passover pointed toward him and of looking forward to the future. 

  • The night before his crucifixion, Jesus went to Gethsemane with his disciples to pray. Judas betrays Jesus there and Jesus allows himself to be arrested.

  • The trial of Jesus involved a hearing in the Jewish court conducted by the high priest and the Sanhedrin, and a hearing in the Roman court conducted by Pilate. The Jewish leaders brought in false witnesses against Jesus and violated numerous rules from the Mishnah in the way they conducted the trial. 

  • Jesus died by crucifixion. The Romans used it as a deterrent because it was public and a horrible way to die. The account of the crucifixion is brief, likely because the readers knew what was involved and it was painful to retell. Jesus was buried by friends.

  • The historical evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus is compelling. Jesus appeared physically to people, many of whom were still alive when the books in the New Testament were written. Rising from the dead confirmed that Jesus has power over death and gives hope of eternal life to people who put their trust in him. 

  • The Gospels are eyewitness accounts that clearly show that Jesus claimed to be fully human and fully God, and what he did to back up this claim. Some people try to reinterpret the Gospels to make Jesus out to be a moral teacher with good intentions, but not God in the flesh.

This is the first part of an introductory course to the New Testament, covering the books Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The synopsis Dr. Stein refers to is the Synopsis of the Four Gospels, English Edition, published by the American Bible Society. You can click here to order it from American Bible Society or click here to order it from Amazon

The lecture notes you can download (to the right) are for both NT Survey I and II. In some of the lectures, Dr. Stein does not cover all the points in his outline, but we include the additional outline points for your benefit. 

Thank you to Charles Campbell and Fellowship Bible Church for writing out the lecture notes for both sections of Stein's NT Survey class (to the right). Note that they do not cover every lecture.

Course: New Testament Survey - Gospels

Lecture: Life of Jesus: Silent Years & Baptism


I. THE SILENT YEARS

All right, after the birth of Jesus, the next thing in the life of Jesus is period which we can refer to as the silent years. The silent years. Why are they silent? Because the bible doesn't talk about them. If you want to know, what happens in the silent years you have to go to the apocryphal gospels and they will clue you in.

Remember we read some stories about the boy Jesus, who works all sorts of miracles, was the best running back the Nazareth High School football team. Scored every time he had the ball, and left [inaudible] for all sorts of opponents who tried to tackle him, or something like that.

However, the gospels are silent about this and there is not much we know. We can learn some things about it. There is one incident in this period found in Luke 2:41 and 52. Turn to page 11 for a minute.

A. The boy Jesus in the temple

This is the story of the boy Jesus in the temple, and what we have here is story about how a little boy, 12 years old, is in Jerusalem, when his parents head for home they assume he is with the caravan playing with the other children. They are not just saying, well we are going to start if he comes out with us, but let's not worry about it, maybe someday he will show up again. There is a kind of pilgrimage in which families are all together, and they assume he is with the rest of the children. They find he’s not there. They go to the temple, and eventually, they find him here and they are very upset and they say, “Son, why have you treated us so?” Line 8, “Behold your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it you sought, did you not know I must be in my Father's house.” They did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. He went down with them, came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them and his mother kept all these things in her heart. Jesus increases in wisdom and is stature and favor with God and man.

Why is this story recorded in the gospel of Luke? Why was it preserved by Luke? What does it teach? I, Luke, wrote this story for you because...It shows that he is different. That there is something about him, that is not like us. And the fact that he, who is the Son of God, is already aware of this at the age of 12. Now, he of course had to know that, he always knew he was the Son of God. Well now, think for a minute. If you really believe in a true incarnation, the Word became flesh. When did Jesus begin to become aware that he was the Son of God? Well, by 12 he was already aware of this in some ways. Was he aware of it, when he was seven months old, crawling around in the house of Nazareth?

I find that hard to conceive. When he was nursing from his mother, his womb, from his mother's breast? Is the Son of God aware of Sonship? I don't know, I don't know how to answer that question.

If you are writing for the apocryphal gospels, as he is nursing he is doing Euclidean geometry. [laughter] But that, I mean you have kind of a dualistic Son of God, who has nothing to do with humanity. If the word truly became flesh, as the writer here says in, Luke says, he increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. I don't want to minimize that and say well, he always had this wisdom.

I don't know how it works out. Maybe, some mysteries about the incarnation. But this incident tells us that already at the age of 12 he already understands something unique about himself. if you say, well Luke, how much before that he was aware of it. Luke would say, I don't know, I just know at the age of 12, that's about all I can say. I don't know.

At the age of 12, he is aware of it and that is why it is in the account because there is something unusual in the silent years. But, why is this the only account we know of in the silent years? Does that suggest something? I think it suggests that this was an unusual instant, and the rest of his life was very usual, so to speak. That he was not that unusual, and that his humanity was quite similar to ours.

I think if you look at the account in Nazareth, that would be page 128, when Jesus comes to Nazareth. We read at the bottom of 127, he went away from there and came to his own country, and his disciples followed him, and on the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. And many who heard him were astonished saying, where did this get all of this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works, are [inaudible]. It's not just the carpenter. The son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon and not his sisters here with us and they took offense of him. And Jesus said to them, the prophet is not without honor, except in his own country and among his own kin and in his own house. When Jesus comes to Nazareth the people are saying, what's he doing? I mean, what does he think he is doing going around preaching like that and what are these miracles he is doing? How come, this is Joseph's kid, and Jesus says he is without honor in his own country as he begins his ministry.

B. Sinlessness

Why is it? Well, I think their unbelief indicates they had seen and watched him for some 30 years, they have never seen anything that would cause them think otherwise, and he was just a normal person. Well, you say, well he was without sin. All right, tell me. How would you know a person is sinless? You would have to be with him 24 hours a day, every day of his life or her life. Now you still wouldn't know. Because you wouldn't know what they are thinking. Sinlessness, [inaudible]. Piety can be seen, but sinlessness, I don't know how you would know that.

C. No Miracles

If the first miracle is at Canaan and Galilee, let's turn to page 23. After Jesus turns the water to wine in verse 11, line 10 at the top of page 23. This the first of his signs, Jesus did at Canaan and Galilee manifested as glory as his disciples believe in him. According to John, the first miracle that Jesus wrought was after his baptism and in Canaan and Galilee as he begins his ministry.

So there is no miracle-working, despite what the apocryphal gospels might be saying, that he doesn't work miracles during these silent years. So, they are very normal, no.

Others pointed out his sinlessness, I believe it, but how would you know it. How would you know it? Devote, sure. Man who kept his word, sure. Man, that you have never heard using profanity, sure. Honored his father and mother, sure. Sinless. You don't know that, you don't know that.

D. Siblings

Now, in the passage in Mark 6:22 and 26, the brothers and sisters of Jesus are mentioned. James, Joseph, Judas, Simon, and his sisters, plural, which means at least two are mentioned as well. So, you have these four brothers and two sisters. Now, what was their relationship to Jesus and to Mary? In the history of the Church, this is greatly debated. It's debated in particular in the early church as more and more the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary comes into being.

I have my own dues as to why arose. I think it arose at a world that had not become so much Jewish Christian, but Greek or Gentile Christian and people in that world are raised in an environment of platonic dualism. In platonic dualism, spirit is good but matter is not. Now if there is anything that is matter, it is the flesh.

The human body and therefore if there is anything is, quote, "matter like", it has to do with the sexual experience and quite soon many in the early church become celibate. They have become a negative attitude towards the sexual relationship and towards marriage in general, which involves the sexual relationship. And you have a view of celibacy being more noble than marriage.

The result is as time goes on the doctrine of the perpetual virginity takes place. You wouldn't really want to think that the mother of the Lord had a sexual relationship with Joseph, would you? That would contaminate her.

Well, that can come out of the Greek world, and the more the Greek world becomes divorced from the Jewish Christian world, the more that becomes a dominating influence. If you talked about a relationship to a Jewish Christian, that Joseph and Mary lived in a sexual relationship, they would probably say, well sure. I mean there would be something wrong about them if the didn't live in a normal marital relationship. Didn't God create them male and female and bless them that way.

Nothing evil about this, this is what you would expect to fulfill God's purpose for a man and woman to marry and have children or something like that. Now, one of the explanations, the Helvetian view, is that the sons and daughters of Joseph and Mary, James, Joseph, Judas, Simon, and the sisters are the actual sons of Mary and Joseph and after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary lived in a normal marital relationship and to that relationship and marriage, it was blessed. At least four sons and two daughters.

I think that is what, the only way I would understand Matthew 1:25 on page 8. Here you have the story of the announcement of in-virginal conception of Mary and at the end, verse 24, after the angel visits. Joseph says, don't fear to take her as your wife, what she has is from the Holy Spirit, we are reading verse 24. When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took his wife, and in verse 25, but knew her not until she had born a son and he called his name Jesus.

But he did not know her, that is the beautiful word for the sexual relationship we find in the bible. It doesn't mean he didn't become acquainted with her afterward in a sense that they learned who she was and learned all about her. But they had a sexual relationship. But they didn't have that until she had born a son and called his name Jesus. It looks like after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary live in a normal marital relationship and they are at least four sons and two daughters. This is the Helvetian view.

That view suffered later on, being associated with Helvetius who later was known as a heretic. Not for this but for other reasons. The Epithanian view, Helvetius is the author of this view. Epithanius the author of this view and that is that the sons and daughters of Joseph by a previous marriage are these four sons and two daughters.

So James, Joseph, Judas, Simon and the daughters are before Jesus birth. They are Joseph's children from a previous marriage. so they are essentially half brothers or something like that, without trying to figure out how you do a virgin birth and all of this and figure halves and relations of that nature. But they are not the actual sons of Mary and Joseph, but Joseph's sons and daughters by a previous marriage.

That always causes me problems at Christmas time, because at Christmas I usually envision sometimes Joseph leading a donkey and Mary sitting on the donkey as they head toward Bethlehem. And now I see Joseph leading Mary and a donkey, and then there is James, Joseph, Judas, Simon and the daughters, their sisters. It does explain being no room in the inn, [audience laughter] more than that it doesn't explain much.

I might point out, by the way, Calvin held this view, interestingly enough. Calvin, he doesn't, he is not a real proponent for it, but he inclines to that.

Helvetius, the author of this view, Epithanius the second view, Hieronymian that is Jerome's view and that is that they are cousins of Jesus and I would suggest that the strongest argument for that view is found in page 322. I tend to be very strong on the first view, but I must admit that John 19:26 to 27 favors the Hieronymian view.

Here when Jesus was on the cross, verse 26 of John, line 9. When Jesus saw his mother and his disciple whom he loved standing near he said to his mother, woman behold your son. Then he said to the disciple, behold your mother and from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. That I think is less easy to understand under the Helvetian view or the Epithanian view in some ways it ah, more the Hieronymian view, the view of Jerome. The term brothers and sisters is sometimes used like cousin-like relationships in ancient times. Not the normal one, but it's possible so that being cousins then if you interpret it that way, this is the way you interpret it here then. The fact that Jesus doesn't commit his mother to James, Joseph, Judas, or Simon. It what looks like maybe she didn't have her own children or adopted children from Joseph. To do it to a cousin that would seem strange. Doesn't it? If you had children that were your husband's children, that Jesus would entrust her to friend, loosely a cousin rather than his own stepbrothers and so forth. That looks like it's more difficult to explain.

E. Languages of Jesus

But of course this has difficulty explaining Matthew 125. Now, concerning the languages of Jesus. We won't look these up but a number of passages in Mark you have a non-Greek expression lemana Shabaqthani, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me. You have the little girl, to which being interpreted means little girl I say to you. There is a number of places where you have Aramaic quoted by Jesus, followed by the Greek explanation.

Aramaic is the native tongue of the people of Judea and of Galilee. There is no reason why that anyone would think that the Aramaic on the lips of Jesus in these places are not original and go back to him. That would of been a natural language. Now, Aramaic is related to Hebrew, their dialects of each other and it is almost certain that he also knew Hebrew. 
When he comes to the synagogue, in Luke 4:16 they give him the scroll of prophet Isaiah. He finds the place and he reads. So he is able to speak Hebrew and understand it, but to read Hebrew as well and not everybody, a minority of people can actually read text in his day.

Arabic and Hebrew and that would not be hard at all. I mean it's like a being a border city between Holland and Germany. These are dialects that are related to each, to speak Dutch and to speak German would be very, very, very easy.

People in Switzerland for instance are taught three languages. German, French, and Italian and if you come from a different area, instead of Italian you learn Romansh, which is a language that is extinct at this time, but it's a native dialect in that area. And besides that, they go to school they learn English.

So, knowing various languages is not that difficult and it's not just the matter of having educated population. They are people in Africa who know a number of different dialects among themselves and they may not be able to read, but they can speak in these languages.

I was always amazed that when I went to Jerusalem how well these storeowners could bargain in English. Well, several years later they were bargaining in Japanese. So, I mean some people [inaudible]. For Jesus to know these two languages is not a problem.

Now there is also some suggestions that he knew Greek. For instance, when he speaks to the Syrophenician woman. This would of not of been in Aramaic. She was a Greek. She did not know Aramaic. He must of known something of Greek. When he appears before Pontius Pilate, the conversation goes on, now no translator in mentioned. It could have been that they didn't refer to the translator. But, it looks more like a kind of direct conversation and also when you realize that Jesus is raised for 30 years in Galilee. How is Galilee referred to? Galilee of the Gentiles. Three miles, four miles away from the city of Nazareth. Nazareth was the city of Sepphoris, which was a major city which had a great deal of building going on and it might be very well that Jesus as a boy, went with his father and they worked in Sepphoris. In this very, very Greek kind of city. So, probably had ability in three languages. As to Latin, he probably picked up some terms because of the Roman legions that were in the area, but he not of been able to read Latin as such.

F. Tempted

Now the value of these silent years I think are very important for us as Christians. Let me read to you how the writer of the book of Hebrews refers to this period in Jesus’ life. In chapter two of Hebrews verses 14 to 16, he writes the following. Since therefore the children share flesh and blood. He himself, likewise shared the same things, Word became flesh.  So that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, he had to remain like his brothers and sisters in every respect so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God. To make sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Now he says because he himself was tested, by what he suffered.  Another word is tempted by what he suffered. He is able to help those who are being tested or tempted.

And then in chapter 4, verses 14 to 16, since then we have a great high priest who is passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession, for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. But we have one in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, approach the Throne of Grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace help in times of need.

I think it is very encouraging to think that our savior to whom we pray, was tempted like we, and therefore he understands and he bids us to come to him as a sympathetic hearer of our prayers.

Now if you asked me theologically, could Jesus have sinned? I am not a real deep theologian, I am very simple. When I hear Jesus is tempted by Satan, my understanding that is, yes, he was really tempted by Satan and therefore he could of sinned. Then you say well, isn't that kinda dangerous doctrine? I don't know, I do notice this though that when Jesus meets Satan and he is tempted by Satan, he never responds. "Bug off man, you know I can't sin."  I am not trying to be frivolous, if you say he is not really tempted, that is essentially what happens and I think the writer in the book of Hebrews really says he suffered through this and therefore because of that, I don't want to lose that.

I have a savior who knows what it is to be tempted and if somebody said well, you know, well he never sinned so he really didn't experience the temptation like we do. I say well no, it's just the opposite. The person who is really tempted is the one who does not give into his temptation. That is when you feel the temptation. Once you give in it's over. Because he never yielded he experienced temptation to the fullest. And so we have a high priest we can come to, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. 

II. THE BAPTISM OF JESUS

A. John the Baptist

The baptism of Jesus. When we talk about the baptism of Jesus, the story begins with the appearing of a man, John the Baptist. And one of the things you have to understand, is that when John comes on the scene. He causes a tremendous stir. There is a great excitement that he causes because up to this time there had not been a prophet. For 400 years. Reading from some of the inter-testament literature, Second Baruch. Know you moreover that in former times and times of generations of old, our fathers had helper, righteous men or holy prophets and more when we were in our land, they helped us when we sinned or they interceded us with whom who made us. And the Mighty One heard their prayer and forgave us. But now the righteous has been gathered and the prophets have fallen asleep. We also have gone forth in the land and Zion has been taken from us and we have nothing now to save. Now save the Mighty One and his law.

In the, ah, Joseph Soto rabbinic material. Since the last prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi died, the Holy Spirit has ceased in Israel. Now, that means that the normal view, there were some exceptions to this, like the Dead Sea Community at Qumran thought that God had raised up a prophet, a teacher of righteousness or something like that.

But the normal view among the people of Israel was that for the last 400 years, there has been no prophet in the land. The voice of God has not been heard. In the book of Maccabees, in 167, the Syrian general, and Ciac Esophoneise [phonetic] comes down and he desecrates the altar in the temple. What he does is unclear. They are not sure whether he sacrificed a pig on it,  or whether he put an idle on it, or it was a combination of it, but any of those things are not a sacred kind of act for the Jewish faith.

When three years later, the Jews took possession of Jerusalem and the temple. They did not know what to do with the altar stone. What should they do with it? And so they made a discussion and that is, they would take the stones and put it in a of the temple area and leave it there until a prophet should arise and tell them what to do.

So now all of a sudden, after 400 hundred years in the minds of the people there has been no prophet. There is a guy down near the Jordan River, who sounds just like the prophet. Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. Furthermore, his dress is kinda peculiar. He is wearing, well let's describe it, or read it rather. Mark 1:6. Turn with me to page 13. Here is the dress of John the Baptist, line 61.

Now, John was clothed with camel's hair and had a leather girdle around his waist. Now he is wearing very unusual garments and is it just that, that was on sale a Kmart down in Jericho when he went through. I might as well get it, it's a good price. Or, does he chooses unusual dress because he has something in mind. Now, what does he have in mind? In Malachi 4:5, it says that before the Lord's day comes, God will send Elijah back to them to proclaim and there is this expectation of the return of the prophet Elijah.

 For instance, Mathew 9:11, Mark 9:11 to 13. After the transfiguration the disciples asked Jesus, why do they say Elijah must come first? The answer for that is, because Malachi said he would. Now if you look at II Kings 1:8. I'll read that for you. You have a description of Elijah's dress. The king sends a messenger in II Kings one. As the messenger goes somewhere to do something that is forbidden. He is met by a man who is dressed in this weird way and he sends him back to the king and he says, tell the king he is going to die. He comes back to the king and says, this man came up and said your in trouble king. And he said well, what sort of a man was it who came to meet you and told you these things? and he answered him, a hairy man with a leather girdle around his waist. And he said, that's Elijah of the Tishbite.

So here you have this distinctive garment of Elijah, being worn by John the Baptist. And I think you would have to say, he consciously sees in his life the fulfillment of the promise of Malachi. He is the one who God has sent to proclaim the way of the Lord.

And so, John has this understanding of his roll and his garments show that. It's not the normal dress that you would have. The only thing you can say is he consciously chose to dress this way, to dress like Elijah. So he must have a Elijah consciousness. Consciousness of fulfilling the role of Elijah.

Now when the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered a great excitement arose because the Dead Sea scrolls had as the theme verse of the community at Qumran, Isaiah 40:3 Reading from the manual of discipline at the Qumran community, in other words, this was the basic manual of behavior and purpose of the Qumran community.

Reads, when these men exited Israel, the movement, these are the provisions where by they are to be apart from any relationship with sinful humanity. To the end that they may indeed, quote, "Go into the wilderness to prepare the way." That is to do what the scripture joins, and it says, Prepare in the wilderness, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

And then there is a interpretation, the reference here is to the study of the law, which God commanded through Moses. To the end that occasions arise, all things may be done in accordance with what is revealed therein and what the prophets have also revealed by God's holy spirit.

So the these verse of the Qumran community is a voice crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. That theme refers to John the Baptist. The locations similar. It's the wilderness of Judea. They were quite close to one another. About 10 miles from each other or so.

They both had a similar initiation process, although at Qumran there was this baptism that was to be repeated on a yearly bases. But, John has a baptism and both are very critical of the Pharisees, those seekers of smooth things. The Qumran community refers that. As John says this brood of vipers. They are both ascetic in a manor of living and their are both priestly in orientations and Johns a son of a priest.

So, you put all this together and you have the material for wonderful, ah, story making imagination. Was John brought by his elderly parents of the Qumran community, another priestly group to say, we are too old, we cannot take care of him. You take care of him. And as he grows up with the theme verse, "A voice crying int he wilderness", he begins to think the best way of preparing the way in the wilderness is not by means of trying to keep the law perfectly, but going out to the people of this world and tell them they should repent for the Lord is about to come.

That is nice, isn't it? The evidence for. Now, who needs evidence when you have a good imagination you can make up. True stories. Isn't that right? It is very intriguing, but we don't have any evidence. And the question is, Is the wises thing to say is we simply don't know what the relationship is. That they knew of each other? I think that seems fairly clear, but we don't have any evidence to talk about the exact relationship of the person. Now maybe sometimes more evidence will arrive. But in the present time, it's all a question mark.

B. Baptized by John

Now, Jesus comes to be baptized and one of the most certain events in the life of Jesus. When even the most critical of scholars will be willing to except is the fact that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. No, no one argues against that. The only people who argue against that are the people who say Jesus never lived. And if Christ never lived it would be hard to get baptized then that way.

But that radical attitude is rejected by all. Why do you think that no one at the church would of made up a story about Jesus being baptized? Yeah, you have to remember this is a baptism of repentance. And the question that arises then is, well, what ah, what was he seeking to repent of? And the very difficulty that this encounters is proof that it truly happened. The church doesn't make up difficulties like that that need to be explained. It's simply a problem that proves that Jesus was truly baptized.

In the early church, attempts were made to explain this and in one account found in, ah, let's see, I'm trying to think what the apocryphal gospel to the Hebrews. We read, behold mother of the Lord, and his brethren said to him, Jesus, John the Baptist is baptizing for the remission of sins, let's go and be baptized by him. But Jesus said to them, where in have I sinned that I should go and be baptized?

Unless perhaps this very thing that I have said is sin of ignorance. And the story goes on and Jesus goes to be baptized just to make sure. Well, you can see that they are struggling with this issue and we also find that struggle in Matthew's account where John wants to stop him and say, you should baptize me, not the other way around. And Jesus says, let it be to fulfill all righteousness.

 And somehow my understanding is the reason Jesus is baptized is to fulfill all righteousness in the sense that God having shown his approval that indeed his, the work of John the Baptist came from him. Jesus then says, all right I will go and join myself with this which is approved of God and become a part of, identify I should say, with the group preparing their way for heaven, for the kingdom of God. So then, he is baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

In other words, God has shown this move by John the Baptist to be right and of him, and Jesus, therefore, wants to become part of it. Now after the baptism itself, turn with me really quickly to Mark 1:9 to 11 and that would be page 16. In those days, Mark 1:9, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee. He was baptized by John in the Jordan, and when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens open and spirit descending upon him like a dove and a voice came from heaven, thou art my beloved son. With thee, I am well pleased.

Matthew has, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. And they say, what did the voice say. Well, Augustine points out there is no difference between this. I mean it's just the way you report it. Mark is reporting what the voice said directly, in quotes. Matthew is saying when he was being baptized a voice came from heaven, from God, this Jesus is my only begotten son. And for the prospective of the hearer, they are hearing about the affirmation that Jesus is God's son and in Mark, he had the more direct quotation. But there is no real difference between them.

Now at the baptism, several things take place. the heavens are rent, torn into. Do don't have to remember this, but interesting to note that the past, the verb used for rent is schedzumi [phonetic] from which we get Schizophrenic, split personality, here you have the heavens split and there is only one other incidence in Mark where that verb is used. And that is when Jesus is crucified and the curtain of the temple is schedzumi [phonetic], torn into.

And it might be that Mark is implying, it's hard to know, because he doesn't build on it that heaven is open to the son of God at his baptism, so heaven in now open, on way to the holy of hollies is open to us because of the death of Jesus. The spirit descends upon Jesus, another words he is anointed, christened, messiahed, and here in the next account in Luke, nearest account, Luke in Luke 4:16 and following where Jesus comes to the city of Nazareth. He reads from the book of Isaiah, and he says, the spirit of the Lord is upon me. That's the nearest event that Luke has after the baptism of Jesus.

C. Baptism as an anointing of Jesus

So, after the baptism of Jesus, Luke is telling us that he already senses his anointing. His being messiahed, his christening, if you want to use the word. And he speaks this is taken place. I have been anointed for my ministry. And there is a voice that comes from heaven, this is my beloved son, hear you him.

And no doubt in the ministry of Jesus, that would be very meaningful and significant in his ministry to remember the affirmation of God in that regard.

D. Baptized with the Holy Spirit

There is one thing that I wanted to comment briefly on. The message of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus was that after me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of those sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water. But he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

That expression, to baptize with the Holy Spirit is found some seven times in the New Testament. All but one make reference to John's message. I baptize you with water, and he who comes after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

The other is in I Corinthians 12:13. There's a great deal of emphasis today in certain circles about the baptism of the spirit, being some sort of a secondary experience in the Christian life that one should seek after. This is not what, what is meant by the words of John the Baptist. When John says, I baptize you with water, unto repentance, he means I baptize everyone of you who have followed me, with the baptism that is associated with repentance. The one who comes after me, he also has a baptism and we talk about Christian baptism, but this is a baptism associated with the Holy Spirit. He will baptize his followers with the spirit.

Now, it seems impossible to me, if you do the comparison, I John baptize my disciples this way, Jesus will baptize a small percentage of his disciples with the Holy Spirit.

This is something that every Christian has when they become a believer. They received the gift of the Spirit. So I understand it this way, I John baptize all of you who have followed me with water and it's a baptism of repentance.

But the messiah when he comes, he will baptize all those who follow him with the Holy Spirit. And that's exactly the way Paul understands it in I Corinthians 12:13 when he says to the Corinthians, For by one Spirit were are all baptized into one body. Whether Jews, the Greeks, slaves, or free. We were all made to drink of that one Spirit.

So that the expression, the baptism of the Spirit is a way of describing the early Christian experience of believing in Jesus, being baptized, and also being given the gift of the spirit, of being born again, becoming a new creation in Christ. It's not something that if you are a Christian, you have received the Spirit. You have had that experience. It's not something you should seek later on after you become a Christian. For the very act of becoming a Christian involves that coming of the Spirit and the life and in the early church it was so intimately associated with the act of baptism, the expression is rather clear, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was understood as there conversion baptism, faith and repentance and they are receiving the gift of the Spirit. All of which took place generally on the same day.