If You Are the Son of God…

21 Aug
Prove It

from Google Images

In Luke 3:22 we find a voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be God’s beloved Son. In Luke 3:23-38 we have Jesus declared as God’s Son through Adam. That is, Jesus is the Son of Man, the Redeemer who was promised in Genesis 3:15, the Messiah who is called the Son of God (Psalm 2:2, 7, 12). I don’t believe Jesus made much of an impression on the folks witnessing his baptism. John, of course, believed and would have had Jesus baptize him and take over his ministry, but Jesus refused (Matthew 3:13-15). It was more important for Jesus to be numbered with the sinners who came to John, than to become the new leader of an already successful ministry.

I find it interesting that, although Mary assisted Elizabeth in the birth of John (Luke 1:39-40, 56), John didn’t know Jesus (John 1:29-34). In fact, John seems astonished at his own ignorance, in that he mentions twice that he didn’t know who the Messiah was! The context, however, probably doesn’t mean John didn’t know who Jesus was, but, rather, he would never have taken Jesus for the Messiah without it being pointed out by God. I believe that this is important to our understanding of Luke 4 and Jesus’ temptations, because, apparently, Jesus had no outward appeal to anyone (Isaiah 53:2). I have argued elsewhere that Satan wasn’t so obvious a tempter that his person would immediately annul any argument he would make. Therefore, he must have come in the persons of others, such as the wild beasts, whom Mark (the writer of Peter’s Gospel)[1] mentions were with Jesus (Mark 1:13). It should, also, be noted that they didn’t know Jesus either and demanded proof of him—“If you are the Son of God…” (Luke 4:3, 9).

Why would Mark mention that wild beasts were with Jesus, unless it was important to the text? Therefore, the term, wild beasts, is probably a metaphor for evil and perhaps even violent men. In Acts 10:12 and 11:6 the term was used to indicate gentiles (those who were unclean), and Paul uses the same term to mean Cretans, whom he characterized as liars (Titus 1:12). Of course, it is often used in the book of Revelation to indicate evil organizations or groups that oppose Christ (see Revelation 11:7; 13:1-4; 17:3). The testing of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 3:22; 4:1-3), took place in the wilderness (of unbelieving people – Ezekiel 20:35), because the testing of God’s firstborn son, Israel (Exodus 4:22-23; Hosea 11:1), occurred in the wilderness, and the King must be tested as the nation was tested. The nation was tested for 40 years, so Jesus was tested for 40 days—a day for a year (Numbers 14:34).

The term, wild beasts, of Mark 1:13 probably refers to several groups of Jews who were also interested in and opposed John’s ministry. For example, the Sadducees and Pharisees at Jerusalem opposed and sought to trap John (John 1:19-24 ;Mark 3:7), and both John and Jesus referred to them as unclean beasts—vipers (Matthew 3:7, 23:29, 33). Certainly, these groups often demanded signs of their own choosing, seeking to force Jesus to validate his claims. They even went as far as denouncing Jesus as the servant of Satan, himself, if Jesus failed to do exactly as they demanded (Luke 11:14-16; cf. Luke 4:9-12).

Not much is said of zealots in the Gospels, but Josephus blames them for being at least one of the causes of Rome’s destruction of the Jewish nation and the Temple at Jerusalem.[2] Nevertheless, they were not only very unpredictable and violent, causing sedition whenever possible (Acts 5:36-37; 21:38), they would certainly have had their own ideas of how the Messiah should act (cf. John 12:34).

The one group would have wanted Jesus to immediately take the reins of government and remove the Roman yoke of bondage. The other would have demanded signs of their own choosing. We might even refer to them as the miracle-a-day group, because Jesus wouldn’t be able to command them to do anything without offering another sign to show that God was behind the whole matter.

It was expected of the coming Messiah—the Prophet who would be like Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15)—that he would be a worker of miracles, like Moses had been. The people cried out for water (Exodus 17:1-2), and Moses brought water out of a rock (Exodus 17:5-6). They cried out for food (Exodus 16:2-3) and Moses gave them manna from heaven (cf. John 6:31). Whatever their hearts lusted after, whether food, clothing, shelter—whatever the need (desire) might be, according to these wild beasts, the Messiah should be able to satisfy their requests. “If you are the Son of God…” (cf. Isaiah 53:2).


[1] See my other blogposts: “Whose is Marks Gospel?” and “Who Wrote Mark’s Gospel?

[2] Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews (20.8.5)

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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Gospel of Luke


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