John the Baptist

Matthew 3:1-7

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”1 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

  “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
  ‘Prepare2 the way of the Lord;
    make his paths straight.’”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?


[1] 3:2 Or the kingdom of heaven has come near

[2] 3:3 Or crying: Prepare in the wilderness


Going Deeper

Going Deeper

Mary & Joseph (6-27-20)

Luke 1:26-30 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”

As we dive into Mary’s testimony, we come to understand that she is a teenage girl, committed to Joseph to be married, and is preparing for her wedding. Things get interesting as she is visited by an angel of the Lord. Now, any of us would be freaked out at the sight of the angel, but not Mary. Notice that she is troubled, but not at the sight of an Angel. Instead it’s at his announcement that she is favored, and the Lord is with her. What I love about Mary’s response is what it reveals about her heart for God! An angel has just told her that she is “highly favored and that God is with her.”

Realize that the way the Jewish people thought about God’s presence was in the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest could go on their behalf. So, these are not casual, flippant words for Mary. The concept of God being with us and the concept of our being favored by God are not words that Mary took lightly—it rocked her!

Here is the point: It should rock us, too! She was blown away at the thought that God would draw near to her. What a life altering, profoundly powerful idea that the living God has drawn near to us. Not only does He draw near, but He has a plan and a provision for us. He had a plan for Mary as well.

Luke 1:31-33 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

We also see this life-altering announcement given to Joseph.

Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Joseph and Mary both show signs of great faith in God despite being told life-changing news. How big do you believe God is?

We serve a huge God who knows no bounds. He is able, more than able. He does, and will do, what is best for His eternal purposes. There is no situation that is above God or out of His reach.

I think it was Mary and Joseph’s big view of God that helped them thrive in a really tough situation. If God is small and limited in your mind and heart, you will worry, and you will doubt. If God is big, sovereign, and over it all, you will lean not on your own understanding but trust in Him.

Luke 1:34-37 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Now surely, in Mary’s life, this news is not the peace for which she is looking. But we must step back and understand her situation.

  1. Her People in Unrest:

Her people are in unrest from the incredibly high taxation under Caesar, hatred and brutality of Herod, and the military force Rome was applying to the Jewish people.

  1. The Unplanned Pregnancy of an Engaged, Teenage Girl:

By tradition, her pledged spouse would try to divorce her, or have her stoned, for her perceived adultery! Think about what this does to her wedding plans—because, you don’t mess with a girl’s wedding!

Can you imagine what the town will say when she starts to show?

What does she say, “Oh an angel visited me; the Holy Spirit made me pregnant.”

“Come on Mary, just admit it, you are a floozy and a liar.”

There are so many reasons for Mary to be freaking out. But listen carefully to the response of a scared teenage girl who is in the midst of an oppressive upbringing, an arranged marriage, and now hearing news that would rip any young girl’s social life apart.

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

In the midst of all of life’s chaos, on the heels of more chaotic news, she is at peace! She is experiencing great harmony with God even in the midst of the storm and with more curveballs to come—including a one-hundred-mile donkey ride while pregnant and giving birth in a dirty, animal cave. Yet, she is at peace! How? Why? There are three things we see in Mary that help us understand real and lasting peace!

  1. Mary has a high view of God

Listen to her heart as she sings out to God these words:

Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; [Listen to the great divine insight she has as she must be thinking about who really is in power instead of Herod or Caesar.] he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Her soul magnifies the Lord and rejoices in God, for holy is His name and mighty is His power.

There are a lot of things in our sin in which we can magnify and rejoice. Mary’s heart is fixed on God, and she sees Him as Holy and worthy. She sees Him as mighty over all things. This is how she has peace—because she has a healthy and high view of God.

Author Steve Brown, says it so well, “As long as I could keep God in church, in my theology books, and in my God discussions, I could deal with Him. But when the real God came, it felt like he shook the church, burned the books, and laughed at some of our God discussion. I then realized that one doesn’t “deal with” God. He deals with us!”

We must be growing in our view of who God is. If peace is going to be real in our hearts and minds, so must our huge God! In John 3:30 John says it well, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

  1. Mary surrendered to the will of God.

Luke 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” …

If you are in charge of your life and you have not truly surrendered it to God in all things, that means you are still trying to hold onto the controls, and it’s no wonder why you have no peace; it’s no wonder why you are freaking out!

Mary has every opportunity to doubt God, to make excuses, and to run away, but she surrenders.

How are you at surrendering yourself to God’s will, to God’s word, so that He is the true authority in your life? Mary models a life that is truly surrendered to God and truly yielding to His will by saying, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

  1. Mary and Joseph embraced the good news of Jesus

Luke 1:31-33 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Later to Joseph, the Angel says, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  We must understand that we are powerless for peace by ourselves, and why we are powerless for peace—because of our sin. This is why we need a savior!

Man’s power produces idolatry and when he elevates anything over God, that is sin. Sin is idolatry! When our relationships, our stuff, our status, or our success is more important to us than God is, that is sin. What we have to understand is that when these things are so important to us, we will stress about keeping them in order, from breaking down.

The problem is our relationships, our stuff, our status, our successes, and our health, all break down.

Psalm 38:18 (NASB) … I am full of anxiety because of my sin.

Man doesn’t have the power to not stress nor to not worry, because man is sinful; and, when we value the things God created more than God, we are in sin. And when that stuff breaks down, we can stress.

The good news is the arrival of Jesus!

Matthew 1:21 “… you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

There is no peace in this world without the Prince of Peace. There will be no peace in your life without the Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called … the Prince of Peace.

What Mary and Joseph understood, and the reason why they had true peace, is that their very souls received the good news of the child that would set us free!  The question is, do you have a high view of God that causes you to truly surrender your life to Jesus alone, to trust in Him and rest in His peace even when times are hard, not going well, and/or not looking good on the horizon?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

By His grace and for His glory,


Soldiers for Jesus MC

Joseph & Mary

Luke 2:21-52

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29   “Lord, now you are letting your servant1 depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30   for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32   a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.2 She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Return to Nazareth

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents3 saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”4 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature5 and in favor with God and man.


[1] 2:29 Or bondservant

[2] 2:37 Or as a widow for eighty-four years

[3] 2:48 Greek they

[4] 2:49 Or about my Father’s business

[5] 2:52 Or years


Joseph & Mary

Matthew 2:1-23

The Visit of the Wise Men

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men1 from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose2 and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

  “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
  for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18   “A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
  Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.


[1] 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16

[2] 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9