Jesus Prepares for Ministry

Open Your Bible

Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 4:1-25, Isaiah 40:1-5, John 1:1-13

Our lives are marked by movements and shifts, the chapter breaks in our story. From graduations and new jobs to marriage and milestone birthdays, a big life change is an event that deserves our attention and preparation. This is why we have rituals to mark those moments when our before becomes an after. Even Jesus, the human incarnation of God, has those turning points in His life.

Chapters 3 and 4 of Matthew tell one of those before-and-after stories. In all the familiarity of this Gospel account, it’s easy to forget that most of what we know about Jesus’s life occurs within three years of traveling, teaching, and healing. While a full three decades of “before” exist, the page turns at His baptism.

Jesus comes to John—the famous wilderness prophet—for baptism in the Jordan River. Of course Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized the way others do. He has no sin to repent of, no unrighteousness to turn from. When John protests and asks why, Jesus says it’s “because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Allowing this holy, imperfect human to cleanse Him in the same river their ancestors crossed centuries before is a statement of humility. Jesus is going first in every act of righteousness that He will call His followers to participate in as well. And in response, “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased’” (v.17).

After this public commitment and affirmation of belovedness, the very next sentence drops us into a new challenge: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). It’s helpful for me to step out of my familiarity and personally imagine this scene: Jesus has been fasting for over a month, and by this point He was famished. Before, we saw Him submitting to John’s leadership. Now we see Him facing the temptation to take charge and elevate Himself, whether by meeting His needs for food, testing God’s care for Him, or taking a shortcut to power. I can’t help but wonder what the exhausted, hungry, human part of Jesus thought and felt in those moments. And still, He holds steady, faithful, true. 

Jesus emerges from the wilderness ready to call His first disciples and take decisive steps into His ministry. He takes up John’s mantle, calling the people of God back to repentance, back to the kingdom. He calls for reformation where the leaders have lost their way and speaks for the poor and the outcast—perhaps the very sort of people who would feel drawn to John’s prophetic preaching and baptismal cleansing in the first place. All of those secret, unwritten chapters of his life have been built to the moment written by an earlier prophet: “Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled….And the glory of the LORD will appear, and all humanity together will see it…” (Isaiah 40:4–5).

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64 thoughts on "Jesus Prepares for Ministry"

  1. I read this paragraph completely about the comparison of latest and preceding technologies, it’s remarkable article.

  2. Danya says:

    Thank you Madie. I can relate asvi too fell in this state yesterday too. Lord forgive me

    Left ypur eues to the hills from whence comes your help. Your heart comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.

  3. Kiara Hardimon says:


  4. madie varney says:

    Needed to feel his spirit today. Was really low on the ways of new parenthood, working and not being able to give myself and jesus the adequate attention they all need. I was led into temptation today I was bitter, angry and impatient with whoever got in my way. I let the devil control my actions and for that I am repenting.

  5. Morgan Garrett says:

    “Follow me” stands out to me.
    Jesus fully God, fully man, took on sin and was baptized as a way of being made new in Christ. We too can “Follow Him” once we confess our sins, repent and confess we are a sinner and faithfully come to Jesus and ask Him To be our savior can be made new by the waters of baptism.
    Jesus also experienced temptations like we do daily- lust of flesh, eyes, and pride of life. Yet He overcame them by the Word Of God(our sword in the armor of God we have). We too go through the same temptations that Jesus faced. We too should “Follow Him” and when tempted rely on and remember the Word of God to overcome our temptations.
    When we accept Jesus as our Savior and are made new in Christ. We need to “ Follow Him” on sharing the Good News and reaching other people for the Kingdom of God.

  6. Tara B says: