Introduction: We learned the last two weeks that Christianity is the
“thinking person’s religion.” What we did not discuss was how hard
we have to think! In one sense it is easy and logical to line up the
Old Testament system for removing sin with the life, death,
resurrection and heavenly ministry of Jesus. They just logically
fit. On the other hand, it is not so easy to understand how the
Creator God could demean Himself to become a human. Even the
mechanics of the “God born of a woman” to create a God/human are very
difficult to grasp. Let’s give it a try by plunging into our Bible

  1. Virgin Mary

    1. Read Luke 1:26-28. Do you remember when you were engaged
      to be married? How did you feel? (It was exciting. Not
      only is romantic life a great feeling, but the
      opportunities of life lay before you.)

      1. How would you like this greeting from God given to
        you by Gabriel?

    2. Read Luke 1:29. How did Mary react to this greeting? Why
      should she react as she did? (This was an astonishing
      greeting for a young woman. Why should she deserve this?)

      1. Do you think Mary might have thought this was undue
        flattery and the angel wanted something from her?

        1. Was it flattery? (No! As we will see God the
          Father is trusting Jesus to a human – and Mary
          is the one He picked. This is no flattery.)

    3. Read Luke 1:30-34. Of all of the amazing things that
      Gabriel says, which one catches the attention of Mary?
      (She never got beyond his first point -the one about her
      having a son even though she is not yet married.)

    4. Read Luke 1:35-37. Would this answer your question if you
      were Mary?

      1. Do you understand the angel’s explanation?

      2. What is the most important point made by Gabriel
        which helps you to understand this? (Gabriel knows he
        is saying something that is completely inconsistent
        with human experience. He points out another miracle
        (the pregnancy of Elizabeth) and says “Nothing is
        impossible with God.” You think this is unusual for
        God? Imagine speaking the world into existence.)

    5. Let’s go back and look more closely at the part of the
      announcement that did not elicit questions from Mary
      because she was still working on the first point. Re-read
      Luke 1:31-33. What is being said about Jesus? Does it
      clearly say that Jesus is God?

      1. Why does the text say “called the Son of God” instead
        of “is the Son of God?” (Jesus’ status will not
        simply be declared by Gabriel, it will by
        acknowledged by humans.)

      2. Read Romans 1:1-4. Why should humans call Jesus “the
        Son of God?” (Not simply because of Old Testament
        prophecies, not simply because of His usual
        conception, His resurrection from the dead shows His
        power. There are lots of reasons to call Jesus the
        “Son of God.”)

    6. Read Luke 1:38. How does Mary react to this astonishing
      and unprecedented news? Bring yourself back to the memory
      place where we started – how did you look at life when you
      were engaged? How would this change your hopes, dreams and
      plans? (Mary submits to God’s will for her life. Any
      wonder why God said such great things about her?)

  2. The God Man

    1. Based on this introduction, what would you call Jesus?
      Half man, half God? (Read Colossians 2:9. The Bible tells
      us that all of God lived in a human form. Jesus was fully

    2. Compare Hebrews 1:1-3 with Hebrews 5:7-10. Can you
      reconcile these two descriptions of Jesus? One says Jesus
      is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact
      representation of His being” and the other says “He
      learned obedience from what He suffered [and became]
      perfect [and the source of our salvation].” (One sounds
      completely like God and the other sounds completely like
      humans. I think that is the right answer – Jesus was
      fully God and fully human.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 15:45-47. Is there a logical link
      between Adam and Jesus? (Read 1 Corinthians 15:48-49. The
      Christian life demonstrates the link. We start out as
      sinful humans (Adam)and we are resurrected to eternal life
      though Jesus.)

  3. The Baptized Man

    1. Read Matthew 3:13-14. Who has the better argument here,
      Jesus or John? (The obvious answer is “John.” Why does
      sinless Jesus need to be born again? How could you top
      His first birth?)

    2. Read Matthew 3:15. Wait a minute. What argument is Jesus
      making? It convinced John, does it convince you? (Do you
      recall the “incorporation” concept we considered two weeks
      ago? When Jesus died, we died in Him. Thus, we died for
      our sins through Jesus. Jesus is talking about the “front
      end” of this same idea. When Jesus was baptized, we were
      baptized corporately. In that way this “fulfilled all

      1. Isn’t there a flaw in this incorporation argument?
        Following Jesus’ instructions ( Matthew 28:19-20), His
        disciples were later baptizing everyone they could
        get their hands on. Why would new converts need to be
        baptized if they were “corporately” baptized with
        Jesus? (Instead of creating a logical hole, I think
        this fills one. If everyone died for His sins through
        Jesus, then all would be saved. That is not
        consistent with the rest of the Bible. Jesus’ command
        to baptize shows that the corporate model has an
        “opt-in” feature. You died with Jesus when you
        affirmatively accept Him as your Lord. You are
        corporately baptized with Jesus when you accept

    3. Read Matthew 3:16-17. Who is involved in Jesus’ baptism
      (and, corporately, ours)? (God the Father and God the Holy

      1. Do you now understand why Jesus gave the instructions
        He did for our baptism? (See Matthew 28:19. His
        baptism and ours match perfectly.)

  4. The Tested Man

    1. Read Matthew 4:1-2. This immediately follows Jesus’
      baptism. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into

      1. When you think of “spiritual highs” in your life,
        where would you place the day of your baptism?

      2. What is the point of the fasting? (Read Esther 4:15-16. Esther agreed to be the champion of her people to
        try to defeat Haman, who wanted to kill the Jews. To
        prepare for this pivotal meeting with the King, she

      3. If you were a battle commander, would you choose the
        place of battle or would you let your opponent choose
        it? (I think these questions lead us to the
        explanation for the odd statement that the Spirit led
        Jesus into temptation. Braced by baptism and
        fasting, Jesus is led by the Spirit into combat with
        Satan. The Spirit picks the time, place and
        circumstances for the battle.)

      4. Is there a lesson in this for us? (We need to prepare
        against sin by guarding our thoughts. We need to
        prepare against sin by knowing God’s word. We need
        to be led by the Holy Spirit. If we know a battle is
        coming, we should prepare by fasting.)

    2. Read Matthew 4:3-4. Assume you are Satan and you want to
      cause Jesus to sin. How much time and thought would you
      put into crafting your opening temptation?

      1. Do you think that Satan is caught unprepared for this
        battle? (Yes. They are now on Jesus’ ground. Satan
        uses what is there – hunger – to test Jesus on pride
        and trust in God. It is hard to believe turning
        stones into bread would be Satan’s best approach.)

      2. How does this compare to the temptation of Eve and
        Adam? (It was pride (be like God knowing good and
        evil) and it was trusting God (God has kept something
        good from you).)

      3. What does this teach us about our weaknesses? (It
        tells us to beware of our pride and failing to trust
        God. These are prime weapons used by Satan. If Satan
        would use them against Jesus, he would certainly use
        them against you.)

    3. Read Matthew 4:5-6. Jesus’ answer to the bread temptation
      is to refer to the Bible. Satan’s next temptation relies
      on the Bible. Has this temptation any parallel to
      temptations in your life? Has it any parallel to the
      temptation of Adam and Eve? (This is the opposite problem
      – presumption. We go from not trusting God to presuming
      that God will intervene to save us no matter what we do.
      Adam and Eve presumed God would not do what He said.)

    4. Read Matthew 4:8-10. How serious a temptation do you think
      this was for Jesus?

      1. What parallel is there to temptations in your life?
        (Satan is offering Jesus a short-cut. He can avoid
        all sorts of trouble and pain if He will just take
        Satan’s route. Our lessons are about righteousness
        through Jesus, but we must never forget Jesus’
        instruction in Matthew 5:48 that we must strive for
        holiness – to be perfect as our heavenly Father is
        perfect. The “short-cut” to holiness is Satan’s third
        temptation to Jesus.)

    5. Friend, you are incorporated into Jesus’ baptism and His
      death and resurrection when you opt into faith in Him.
      Will you determine today to opt into Jesus’ life – to
      accept the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life
      pleasing to God?

  5. Next week: Metaphors of Salvation.