Jesus’ Life of Love

Jesus: God’s Beloved Son -Lesson One

Matthew 3:13–4:11

 

Introduction

Have you ever watched an ant colony? The ants move along invisible trails that other ants have somehow marked out. Working together they carry tiny bits of dirt to the top of the anthill. When something falls on the trail or the anthill, they scurry about frantically.

Now suppose you really care about ants and a storm is coming. Without your help the ants are going to die in a flood. You want to save them. You shout at the ants, “Move to higher ground,” but they pay no attention. You take a stick and try to redirect their trail. It doesn’t work. They think you are trying to hurt them.

Your ways are completely incomprehensible to the ants. You live on a different level—higher, richer and more advanced—and they can’t understand what you are trying to communicate. The only way for you to save the ants is to become an ant yourself and use their language to help them in a way they understand.

This is what God did for us.

Jesus came to earth to speak our language—to show us our Father’s heart of compassion and way of salvation. He became like us so we could know and experience God. Jesus took our anatomy as a human being—with a spirit, a soul and a body—so He could reconcile us to God. As a man—as a three-part being—Jesus undid what Adam had done in the fall. He restored us to God’s original design: we were created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).

In becoming one of us and dying on the cross as a sinless human being, Jesus paid the price the law demanded for our sins. Adam had chosen the desires of his own soul over the will of God, but Jesus chose God’s will over the desires of His own soul. He surrendered his soul to the leading of the Spirit and gave His body to die on the cross for our sins.

In the sacrificial love of Jesus on the cross, we are set free to become the people God created us to be. When we invite God into our life, His Spirit comes to live in us and our relationship with God begins. Then, in God’s design, our soul—our mind, will and emotions—surrenders its own desires (will) and comes to rest under the loving leading of the Spirit. In this way, the body (as directed by the soul at rest in the Spirit’s leading) radiates the nature of Christ in earthly, physical reality. And so we become as Jesus was—spirit-soul-body channels through which the love of God floods the earth.

Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). We see the love of our heavenly Father in the stories Jesus told; in the way He stopped to help the sick, interact with outcasts, and befriend sinners; in His teaching; in His prayers and in His death. We see God in Jesus’ life of love.

This Bible study series is designed to help you know God as He really is and to direct your heart toward His love. Jesus’ life speaks restoration to us. We are valued and cherished beyond measure. We are precious to God. He has a grand and glorious plan for all His people.

God has chosen you. He has made a way for you to be adopted into His family. He loves you with an unstoppable, limitless love. That love came to rescue you completely, to set you free and to make you whole. Jesus came to give you eternal life in heaven and abundant life, here and now, on this earth. God created you to know His love, abide in His love and radiate His love.

Open your heart to Jesus who came to share the Father’s love with you!

 

Lesson One

I was out for a walk in the neighborhood with my four-year-old grandson when he turned to me and said, “God loves me and that is the most importantest thing.”

I cannot think of a statement that is more profoundly true. The grammar may not be correct, but the content is. God loves us; that is truth at its foundation. And it is “the most importantest thing” that we believe and embrace this truth.

“God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). He is the source and supply of all things that are good: mercy, forgiveness, kindness, compassion. Love begins with God. God loves us, not because we did anything to deserve it, but simply because it is His nature to love. He values us. He longs for us. He has our best interest at heart.

That is the truth. But, in order for God’s love to become real in our lives, we need to believe it. The only requirement to receiving His love is that we—with trusting, childlike faith—believe. When we believe in God and accept that He values and cherishes us, we come to see Him as He really is. And, as we come to see Him as He really is, we come to be like Him—to radiate His nature of love.

As a human like us, Jesus—the Son of Man—had to know and trust in God’s love for Him. To share God’s love with us—to show us the Father’s heart—Jesus too had to believe in His Father’s love. It was through this unbroken, loving relationship that the Father’s love had perfect expression in the Son. Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all he does” (John 5:19–20).

Trusting His Father with total assurance of His love made it possible for Jesus to live a life of love. His Father was the source of the love Jesus radiated in His life. Over and over again, Satan tempted Jesus to choose His own will over His Father’s. But in every trial and temptation, the Son trusted in His Father—and radiated God’s love to the world.

In the passage for this lesson, we hear the Father introduce Jesus: “This is my Son, whom I love.” Jesus let these words define Him, not only at His baptism, but also in the wilderness temptations and throughout His life. He believed and trusted in His Father’s love.

 

Read Matthew 3:13–4:11:

 

Chapter 3

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

 

Chapter 4

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“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.’”

7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

 

Questions

1.Imagine you are present at Jesus’ baptism. What do you see as the scene unfolds?

 

2. According to verse 16, what was the Holy Spirit’s role at Jesus’ baptism.

 

3. In verse 17, what did the Father say to His Son? Why do you think the Father choose these words?

 

4. How do you think Jesus received these words?

 

5. If God introduced you with the words, “This is my son/daughter, whom I love,” how would you feel and/or respond?

 

6. The Father called Jesus “My son, whom I love.” Yet in verse 4:1, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into (not away from) the desert to be tempted. How do you explain this?

 

7. Think of a time when you have been in a particularly difficult situation. In what ways does your knowing that God loves you make a difference when you are experiencing hard times?

 

8. In verse 3 of chapter 4, Satan tempted Jesus by saying, “Tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus had not eaten in 40 days. Given the circumstances, this seems like a good and reasonable thing to do. Why did Jesus respond the way He did?

 

9. In verses 3 and 6, Satan preceded his first two temptations with, “If you are the Son of God …” Why do you think he did this? Satan did not say, “If you are the Son of God, whom He loves …” Why do you think Satan left out the phrase, “whom He loves”?

 

10. Jesus overcame each temptation by using the Word of God. Think of a temptation you have faced or are facing, what words from Scripture might you have used (use) to resist that temptation?

 

11. In what ways do you think knowing the Father’s love helped Jesus overcome Satan’s temptations.

 

12. How might knowing the Father’s love help you personally in times of temptation and difficulty?

 

Reflection

Get alone in a quiet, peaceful place. Perhaps you have a favorite chair where you like to sit and look out the window. Perhaps you have a special tree you like to lean against as you watch the sun set or the clouds floating by. As you sit in your special place, ask God for a deeper understanding of His love for you.

After you have sat for a while, hear the Father’s voice saying, “This is my son/daughter, whom I love.”

Receive these words as best you are able. If you feel yourself resisting the words in anyway, try to discern the reason (lie/fear) behind your resistance. Give the lie/fear to God and hear His words again, “This is my son/daughter, whom I love.” Repeat as you feel God directs.