The best life ever lived was not Gandhi’s or Lincoln’s or Martin Luther King’s, as great as those folks were. Jesus lived the best life ever and as we continue to study his life as recorded in the Book of Matthew, we are challenged and changed by that perfect life. Today’s message focuses on chapters 3 and 4 and finds that God is the One who makes amazing preparations for His own.
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”
I am a Plummer, but I’m not a plumber. Oh I can do plumbing, but I wouldn’t ever say I’m more than at a homeowner level. I attempted to fix our kitchen faucet a few Saturdays ago. It’s one of those with a long, gooseneck type of spouts and it was leaking at the base of the spout. So I went to Lowes, talked with the young man that was there, tried to figure out what I needed and bought a few washers and o rings. Went home, pulled it all apart and put it back together. Guess what happened? Yup, it leaked worse. Back to Lowes I went, reminding myself of a clear principle that I’ve learned over the years – Never attempt plumbing without a car.
I’ve often thought though, how awesome it would be if somehow I had laid up all the possibilities of plumbing parts I would ever need, right in my garage. That would take preparation, but preparation that I would need someone else who knew everything about plumbing to help me with.
God does that with not just plumbing, but with your life.
1. He prepares our Way. God lives outside time and sees all of time the same, the past, present and future. He makes preparations for us that are eternal, deep, effective and timely.
John the Baptist, who we just read about, was the preparation for people for the arrival of the Savior. He was eternally minded, deep in his spirituality, effective in his mission and so timely. As he was ministering baptism, Jesus, the object he was pointing to, showed up. He was right on time.
2. God Prepares Your Defense.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The teams that are playing tonight are the best from each of the two conferences of the NFL. You know what it may just boil down to? Who has the best defense. They’re both pretty high powered offenses, but with the right opposing defense even the toughest opponent is defeated.
What was this attack in Jesus’ life really about? It was to get Jesus to doubt the truth about Himself, His identity. It was to get Him to sin and disqualify Himself from being the Savior. Really, those both affect the other. If you don’t know who you are in God, you tend to be weak in resisting sin. If you know how much is riding on your life, eternally speaking, you tend to step up and resist.
We have an enemy. He is allowed to tempt and try us. But here’s God’s preparing our defense. Word. Prayer and Fasting. Consecration.
So when the devil said “if”, He didn’t even acknowledge the if.
3. God prepares your mission. There is a people (Capernaum residents and the Disciples), a place (Capernaum), and a message (Repent) with the power to complete the mission (Healing and Deliverance).
Matthew 4:12-17, 23
“Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”…And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.”
In this portion of Scripture we find that centuries before God spoke of a mission field for His Son. He had a message to preach to a people of a certain area and power to complete the job. God did that for His Son.
God does that with you. If you are His, His preparations are already in place; for the good and easy and for the difficult.
Remarkable preparations are made by a providential God and are accessed and appreciated by those who seek Him.
Preparations for your way, your defense, and your mission are all in place. Access them by faith, prayer and closeness to Him.