Gospel of Matthew 3
About that time, John the Baptist first appeared, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea: 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 This is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, when he says: ‘The voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness: Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’“
4 John wore clothing made of camels’ hair, with a belt of leather round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 At that time Jerusalem and all Judea, as well as the whole district of the Jordan, went out to him, 6 And were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 When, however, John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to receive his baptism, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who has prompted you to seek refuge from the coming judgment? 8 Let your life then prove your repentance; 9 And do not think that you can say among yourselves, ‘Abraham is our ancestor,’ for I tell you that out of these very stones God is able to raise descendants for Abraham!
10 Already the axe is lying at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that fails to bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water to teach repentance; but He who is coming after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit even to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing–fan is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing–floor and store his grain in the barn, but the chaff he will burn with inextinguishable fire.”
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to see John and be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent him. “It is I,” he said, “who need to be baptized by you; and yet you come to me?” 15 “Suffer it be so for the present,” Jesus answered, “since it is fitting for us thus to satisfy every claim of religion.” Upon hearing this, John consented.
16 After the baptism of Jesus, and just as he came up from the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending, like a dove, and settled upon him, 17 And from the heavens there came a voice which said: “This is my beloved Son in whom I delight.”
To read Chapter 4 of the Gospel of Matthew, please go to: I Will Make You Fishers of Men
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And lead us not into
(Overcoming Our Pride)
Having led us through forgiveness, the Lord’s Prayer turns to temptation. Jesus approaches the subject from a curious angle. He asks us to pray that the Father will not lead us into temptation. This inevitably causes us to ask: Why would an all–good God lead us to the devil’s doorstep? If we believe in the Lord, does he not reward that faith by leading us away from temptation?
Before answering those questions, we need to remember that we are partners with God in this life. Although he regularly grants us blessings in the form of our “daily bread,” how we use and respond to that bread is up to us. Every blessing and talent bestowed by the Holy Spirit carries with it the seeds of our salvation, and our ruin.
This lesson is taught through the story of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit”1 before it leads him to his sit–down with the devil (a confrontation the Spirit will arrange on our behalf, too, since we must follow in Jesus’s footsteps).2 But why does the great tempter appear when we are full of the Holy Spirit and its glory? The popular cry among Christians is for God to save us from temptation because our spirit is weak. The whole sequence of events sounds strange.
We often don’t pray when we feel strong in spirit, because we don’t even recognize the risk—which makes these moments all the more dangerous. But Jesus warns us of the threat we face when he says that many who are first shall be last3 and that the rich man will find it easier to pass through the eye of a needle than the gates of heaven.4
The danger is the sin of pride. And it is a temptation that Jesus overcame not only in the wilderness, when he refuses to be tempted by the devil into proving himself to be a Son of God or accepting rule over an earthly kingdom,5 but in every village he went to during his short ministry.
That Jesus battles the devil and the sin of pride all the way up to his death is something we often don’t notice. We tend to think that he conquers Satan in the wilderness and that’s the end of it. But in the Book of Luke we are told that the devil, having emptied his bag of tricks, only slips away to wait for his next opportunity.6 Knowing that Satan remains with him but in hiding, Jesus goes about his business in ways to reduce those opportunities for the devil to appear and tempt him into pride.
Worried that Jerusalem will replace the gospel of Christ with…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- On returning from the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led by the power of the Spirit through the wilderness for forty days, tempted by the devil. – Luke 4:1 [↩]
- Calling the people and his disciples to him, Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24 [↩]
- Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or children, or land, on account of my name, will receive many times as much, and will ‘gain Immortal Life.’ 30 But many who are first now will then be last, and those who are last will be first. – Matthew 19:30 [↩]
- Jesus said again: “My children, how hard a thing it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to get through a eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25 [↩]
- Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. 2 And, after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he became hungry. 3 And the tempter came to him, and said: “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus answered: “Scripture says: ‘It is not on bread alone that we are to live, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placing him on the parapet of the temple, said to him: 6 “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for scripture says: ‘He will give his angels commands about thee, And on their hands they will bear thee up, lest ever thou should strike thy foot against a stone.’” 7 “Scripture also says,” answered Jesus, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.’” 8 The third time, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, said to him: 9 “All these I will give you, if you will fall at my feet and pay homage to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Begone, Satan! For scripture says: ‘Thou shall pay homage to the Lord thy God and worship him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him alone, and angels came and ministered to him. – Matthew 4:1–11 [↩]
- When he had tried every kind of temptation, the devil left Jesus, till another opportunity. – Luke 4:13 [↩]
Trust your “inner wisdom” is a lot like Joseph Campbell’s dictum follow your bliss. It sounds good on the surface, but it can just as likely lead us away from the Christ within as lead us toward our divinity and life’s purpose. This is because wisdom is not planted inside us like a burning bush but a mustard seed–a seed which takes years of learning, living, and loving for it to bloom up with fire. The seed of our inner wisdom also demands that we dissipate the cloud cover of our egos which so often stunts its growth and blurs its message.
Jesus’s wisdom, we are told, grew as he grew in years.1 It was only after he had surpassed the wisdom of King Solomon2 and put the devil (ego) behind him in the wilderness of his soul that he fully trusted his inner wisdom and began his ministry in earnest.
Inner wisdom is not downloaded from On High. It is a process of coalescing, of unification. Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree didn’t arrive like a thunderbolt from the heavens. It was a coalescing of all his past meditations, learning, and experiences: all of the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place. But before that could happen, Buddha had to collect all those pieces of knowledge. And that took time, patience, and diligence.
So, by all means do look toward your inner wisdom for guidance. But remember that there are many inner voices battling for your attention. Don’t trust the voice that you think is your “inner wisdom” blindly. Enter into a dialogue with it. Make sure the road it is calling you on has a heart. And look for the traps that your pride and ego sets along the way.
Gain fresh insight into the Lord’s Prayer. Read our free online book The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life. The prayer’s hidden teachings will enrich and inspire you. Click the following link to begin reading the Living Hour book now: The Lord’s Prayer.
- Jesus grew in wisdom as he grew in years, and gained the blessing of God and men. – Mark 2:52 [↩]
- She came from the very ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and here is more than a Solomon! – Luke 11:31 [↩]
Gospel of Mark 1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is said in the prophet Isaiah: ‘Behold! I send my messenger before thy face; He shall prepare thy way.’ 3 ‘The voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness: “Make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ 4 And in fulfillment of this, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism upon repentance, for the forgiveness of sins.
5 The whole of Judea, as well as all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, went out to him; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 John was clad in clothing of camels’ hair, with a belt of leather round his waist, and lived on locusts and wild honey; 7 And he proclaimed: “There is coming after me one more powerful than I, and I am not fit even to stoop down and unfasten his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 Now about that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens rent apart, and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him, 11 And from the heavens came a voice: “Thou art my Son, the Beloved; in thee I delight.” 12 Immediately afterwards the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness; 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and among the wild beasts, while the angels ministered to him.
14 After John had been committed to prison, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God: 15 “The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel.” 16 As Jesus was going along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the sea, for they were fishermen.
17 “Come and follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They left their nets at once, and followed him. 19 Going on a little further, he saw James, Zebediah’s son, and his brother John, who also were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Jesus at once called them, and they left their father Zebediah in the boat with the crew, and went after him. 21 And they walked into Capernaum.
On the next Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught them like one who had authority, and not like the teachers of the law. 23 Now there was in their synagogue at the time a man under the power of a foul spirit, who called out: 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” 25 But Jesus rebuked the spirit: “Be silent! Come out from him.” 26 The foul spirit threw the man into a fit, and with a loud cry came out from him.
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To continue reading Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Mark, please click on page 2 below.
In the Beginning the Word was; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God; 3 Through him all things came into being, and nothing came into being apart from him. 4 That which came into being in him was life; and the life was the light of all; 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness never overpowered it.
6 There appeared a man sent from God, whose name was John; 7 He came as a witness: to bear witness to the light that through him all men might believe. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to bear witness to the Light. 9 That was the true Light which enlightens all who come into the world. 10 He was in the world; and through him the world came into being, yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to his own, yet his own did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him he gave power to become Children of God, to those who believe in his name. 13 For not to natural conception, nor to earthly passions, nor to human will did they owe the new life, but to God.
14 And the Word became Man, and dwelt among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the only Son sent from the Father, full of love and truth. 15 John bores witness to him; he cried aloud—for it was he who spoke: “‘He who is Coming’ after me is now before me, for he was ever first;” 16 Out of his fullness we have all received some gift, gift after gift of love; 17 For the law was given through Moses, but love and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever yet seen God; the only begotten Son, who is ever with the Father—He has revealed him.
19 When the Jews sent some priests and Levites to John from Jerusalem, to ask, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did answer: “I am not the Christ.” 21 “What then?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he said, “I am not.” “Are you ‘the prophet’?”
He answered, “No.” 22 “Who then are you?” they continued; “tell us, that we may have some answer to give to those who have sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness; make straight the way of the Lord,” as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 These men had been sent from the Pharisees; 25 And their next question was: “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor yet ‘the prophet’?” 26 John’s answer was: “I baptize with water, but among you stands one whom you do not know; 27 He is coming after me, yet I am not worthy even to unfasten his sandal.” 28 All this took place at Bethany, across the Jordan, where John was then baptizing.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and exclaimed: “Here is the Lamb of God, who is to take away the sin of the world! 30 It was of him that I spoke when I said: ‘After me there is coming a man who is now before me, for he was ever first.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but, that he may be made known to Israel, I have come, baptizing with water.”
32 John also made this statement: “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of the heavens, and it remained upon him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water, he said to me: ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining upon him—he it is who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 This I have seen myself, and I have declared my belief that he is the Son of God.”
35 The next day, when John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 He looked at Jesus as he passed and exclaimed: “There is the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and followed Jesus. 38 But Jesus turned round, and saw them following. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
They answered: “Rabbi,” (or, as we would say, “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come, and you shall see,” he replied. So they went, and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was then about four in the afternoon.
40 One of the two, who heard what John said and followed Jesus, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him: “We have found the Messiah!” (a word which was being interpreted as the ‘Christ’). 42 Then he brought him to Jesus. Fixing his eyes on him, Jesus said: “You are Simon, the son of John; you shall be called Kephas” (which means a stone).
43 The following day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. He found Philip, and said to him: “Follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, and a fellow townsman of Andrew and Peter. 45 He found Nathanael and said to him: “We have found him of whom Moses wrote in the law, and of whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph’s son!” 46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” asked Nathanael. “Come and see,” replied Philip.
47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said: “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 “How do you know me?” asked Nathanael. “Even before Philip called you,” replied Jesus, “when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael exclaimed, “you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel!”
50 “Do you believe in me,” asked Jesus, “because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You shall see greater things than those! 51 In truth I tell you,” he added, “you shall all see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
To read the next chapter of the Book of John, please go to The Gospel of John – 2.
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