The Bible

 

Luke 3

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1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

2 in the highpriesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

3 And he came into all the region round about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins;

4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight.

5 Every valley shall be filled, And every mountain and hill shall be brought low; And the crooked shall become straight, And the rough ways smooth;

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

7 He said therefore to the multitudes that went out to be baptized of him, Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

9 And even now the axe also lieth at the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

10 And the multitudes asked him, saying, What then must we do?

11 And he answered and said unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath food, let him do likewise.

12 And there came also publicans to be baptized, and they said unto him, Teacher, what must we do?

13 And he said unto them, Extort no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And soldiers also asked him, saying, And we, what must we do? And he said unto them, Extort from no man by violence, neither accuse [any one] wrongfully; and be content with your wages.

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether haply he were the Christ;

16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but there cometh he that is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and [in] fire:

17 whose fan is in his hand, thoroughly to cleanse his threshing-floor, and to gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire.

18 With many other exhortations therefore preached he good tidings unto the people;

19 but Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done,

20 added this also to them all, that he shut up John in prison.

21 Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

23 And Jesus himself, when he began [to teach], was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the [son] of Heli,

24 the [son] of Matthat, the [son] of Levi, the [son] of Melchi, the [son] of Jannai, the [son] of Joseph,

25 the [son] of Mattathias, the [son] of Amos, the [son] of Nahum, the [son] of Esli, the [son] of Naggai,

26 the [son] of Maath, the [son] of Mattathias, the [son] of Semein, the [son] of Josech, the [son] of Joda,

27 the [son] of Joanan, the [son] of Rhesa, the [son] of Zerubbabel, the [son] of Shealtiel, the [son] of Neri,

28 the [son] of Melchi, the [son] of Addi, the [son] of Cosam, the [son] of Elmadam, the [son] of Er,

29 the [son] of Jesus, the [son] of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the [son] of Matthat, the [son] of Levi,

30 the [son] of Symeon, the [son] of Judas, the [son] of Joseph, the [son] of Jonam, the [son] of Eliakim,

31 the [son] of Melea, the [son] of Menna, the [son] of Mattatha, the [son] of Nathan, the [son] of David,

32 the [son] of Jesse, the [son] of Obed, the [son] of Boaz, the [son] of Salmon, the [son] of Nahshon,

33 the [son] of Amminadab, the [son] of Arni, the [son] of Hezron, the [son] of Perez, the [son] of Judah,

34 the [son] of Jacob, the [son] of Isaac, the [son] of Abraham, the [son] of Terah, the [son] of Nahor,

35 the [son] of Serug, the [son] of Reu, the [son] of Peleg, the [son] of Eber, the [son] of Shelah

36 the [son] of Cainan, the [son] of Arphaxad, the [son] of Shem, the [son] of Noah, the [son] of Lamech,

37 the [son] of Methuselah, the [son] of Enoch, the [son] of Jared, the [son] of Mahalaleel, the [son] of Cainan,

38 the [son] of Enos, the [son] of Seth, the [son] of Adam, the [son] of God.

  

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Luke 3

     

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter Three

John Prepares the Way for Jesus

1. And in the fifteenth year of the governing of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip being tetrarch of Iturea and of the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

2. In [the time] of the chief priests Annas and Caiaphas, the saying of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

3. And he came into all the countryside of Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

4. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of [one] crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.

5. Every valley shall be filled full, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth;

6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

7. Then he said to the crowds that went out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers, who has shown you to flee from the anger to come?

8. Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say in yourselves, “We have Abraham for [our] father”; for I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

9. And also the axe is already laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree not making good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.”

10. And the crowds asked him, saying, “What then shall we do?”

11. And answering, he says to them, “He that has two tunics, let him share with him that has none; and he that has food, let him do likewise.”

12. And the publicans also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

13. And he said to them, “Exact no more than that which you have been instructed.”

14. And the soldiers also asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do violence to no one, neither accuse [any] falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15. And as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether or not he were the Christ,

16. John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One stronger than I, the strap of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; He shall baptize you with [the] Holy Spirit and fire;

17. Whose fan [is] in His hand, and He will purge His floor, and will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire.”

18. And exhorting in many other things indeed, he announced the gospel to the people.

19. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

20. Added yet this to all, that he shut up John in prison.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, religion had lost its true meaning. It no longer served to connect people to God or to one another. Instead of a true understanding of God’s loving nature, it pictured Him as angry and vengeful—a tyrant who would punish all those who did not obey every last letter of the law handed down by Moses. In brief, God was seen as an absolute dictator who did good to those who favored Him, and did evil to those who opposed Him. 1

This idea of God, which is reflected in many passages in the Hebrew Bible, is a sad but accurate picture of the human attributes which people of that time projected upon God. While it provides a true picture of the human condition during that era, we now know that it is a wholly inaccurate picture of God. And yet, this idea of God had so captured the human imagination at that time, that there was no way of dispelling it. No amount of revelation, or thunder from heaven, or angelic intervention could pierce the darkness. God Himself had come to earth and clothed Himself in human flesh so that people could gradually be led out of their false ideas and into a true idea of God. He came to show that the nature of Divine Love is not selective, and that it condemns no one. Rather it is a pure love for the whole human race—a genuine love for the neighbor. 2

Unfortunately, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the letter of the Word was not used to uplift and inspire. Instead, religious leaders used it to instill fear and to keep people in spiritual bondage. The religious leaders set themselves up as human intermediaries between God’s supposed wrath and the wicked state of humanity. These corrupt religious leaders, capitalizing on the fear and ignorance of the people, devised numerous ways that people could purchase their salvation and, thereby, avoid the wrath of God.

An important aspect of this corrupt system was that all transactions had to go through the religious leaders who offered prayers on behalf of the people, made burnt offerings, performed ceremonial washings, and encouraged the people to make generous contributions to the temple treasury. In addition, the religious leaders established man-made traditions and elaborate rituals that became more important than the commandments of God. In all of this, they lost sight of God’s abundant love and mercy. In many ways, the state of religion in those days could be described as a barren and dry wilderness. 3

It was at this time that John, the son of Zacharias, had grown wise enough and strong enough to proclaim the truth. He came as prophesied long ago by Isaiah: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Isaiah 3:4-6).

The coming of John the Baptist represents a turning point in the life of every human being. It marks that moment when the letter of the Word rings true, and touches something at the very core of our being. It is as though a voice has cried out in the barren wilderness of our lives—the voice of truth. It is like a fountain of fresh water springing up in a dry, parched wasteland. This is the Word of God springing to life in us, with strong literal teachings that bring about a revolution in our way of thinking. The literal teachings of the Word begin to have a profound effect on us. They wake us up, like a dip in a cold stream, and they speak to us directly about the need to change our lives.

It is John the Baptist, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, telling us in no uncertain terms that we must repent and bear fruit. “Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance…. Every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’” (Luke 3:7-9).

John the Baptist, then, represents the direct and plain statements in the letter of the Word. These are the teachings that tell us, first and foremost, to repent. They tell us to put away selfishness so that we may serve the neighbor justly and generously. Again and again, the people came to John saying, “What shall we do?” And each time John gave them straightforward answers about the external conduct of their lives. To the people He said, “If you have two tunics, give to him who has none. And if anyone is without food, he should be fed.” To the tax collectors, He said, “Collect no more than what is appointed to you.” And to the soldiers He said, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely. And be content with your wages” (Luke 3:11-14).

It is to be noted that John the Baptist, who represents the literal truth of the Word, tells people what to do. The baptism that he offers is a baptism in simple obedience—obedience to the literal teachings of the Word. But this is to be followed by an even greater baptism. As John says, “I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.

The baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire is the greater baptism. But what does this mean? What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? And what does it mean to be baptized with fire?

Beyond Water Baptism

16. John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One stronger than I, the strap of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose; He shall baptize you with [the] Holy Spirit and fire;

17. Whose fan [is] in His hand, and He will purge His floor, and will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire.”

18. And exhorting in many other things indeed, he announced the gospel to the people.

19. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

20. Added yet this to all, that he shut up John in prison.

In essence, our “baptism with water” is our introduction to the most basic truths of religion. We learn that there is a God, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that we must obey the Ten Commandments. We learn that we should share, that we should not steal, that we should not bear false witness, and that we should be content with what we have. In this regard, a baptism with “water” represents our introduction to the basic, fundamental truths—the truths that teach us how to live in the world.

But this is only a beginning. The baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism with fire, take us beyond the introductory truths of water baptism. They refer to the coming of Jesus Christ into our lives with His “Holy Spirit” (the ability to understand higher truth) and with “Holy Fire” (the power to live according to that higher truth).  Just as John the Baptist comes into our lives with literal truths that begin our spiritual development—truths that tell us what to do,  Jesus comes into our lives with deeper insights into those truths, and the power to live according to those insights. Beyond learning what to do, which is represented by our water baptism, we also need to learn how to be, which is represented by the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the baptism of fire.

In the course of our spiritual development, there comes a time when our attitudes take precedence over our actions. We reach a point when we realize that although the actions of our body are important, the intentions of our heart are even more important. In other words, we begin to understand that before our external actions can be truly good, our internal motives must be purified of selfish ambition. It’s not just about actions and words; it’s also about thoughts and feelings. As it is written in sacred scripture, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:4). 4

The baptism of John, then, introduces us to the literal truths of the Word. These introductory truths are our baptism by “water”; they tell us what to do. But the baptism of Jesus takes us deeper. It is a baptism that enlightens our mind with higher truth. In sacred scripture, this is called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Then comes the final baptism. Jesus not only enlightens our minds with higher truth, but also fills our heart with heavenly love. This is our “baptism of fire.” 5

Dealing with the useless “chaff”

John adds that when Jesus comes to baptize us “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” He will use His winnowing fan to “thoroughly purge His threshing floor” (Luke 3:17). This is an image of how farmers separate the good and useful wheat from the chaff. In order to do this, the farmer uses a winnowing fork to toss the grain up into the air, allowing the wind to blow the lighter chaff to the side while the heavier wheat falls straight to the floor. Once this is done, the farmer gathers the good wheat into his barn, and burns the useless chaff.

Taken literally, this is a frightening prospect. It sounds as though God intends to eternally punish sinners in the unquenchable fires of hell. As it is written, when Jesus comes, “He will gather His wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17). There is, however, another way of reading this passage. It can also be read as an eternal promise that God will come into our lives with the Holy Spirit of truth and the Holy Fire of love to blow away and burn up all that is evil and false within us.
Every false thought and negative emotion—the useless “chaff” of our lives—will be winnowed away and burned up in the unquenchable, endless fire of God’s love. 6

Interpreting the passage in this way is consistent with the teaching that God, who is pure love, punishes no one. Rather, everyone experiences the consequences that are associated with the way of life that is freely chosen. People who choose to “burn with anger” about a perceived offense, or harbor a “fiery hatred” for people they despise are already experiencing the unquenchable fire of hell. As Jesus said in a previous gospel, anyone who calls his brother a fool “is in danger of hellfire” (Matthew 5:22).

With this in mind, we can take another look at John’s declaration that although he would baptize with water, Jesus would be coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. In essence, John is saying, “I can baptize you with water, but it will do you no good unless you also allow the Lord to change your mind with His Holy Spirit and change your heart with the fire of His love.”

Herod’s desire

If, however, we freely choose to turn away from this sacred fire, we plunge ourselves into the hellish cravings associated with selfish ambition and the infernal desires associated with materialistic gain. Selfish pleasures, which are the opposite of heavenly delights, are never enough. Like all addictive drives, they are insatiable hungers that cannot be filled, incessant longings that cannot be satisfied, yearnings and “unquenchable fires” that cannot be extinguished. In brief, they are described in sacred scripture as “hellfire”—limitless desires that can never be appeased. 7

This was especially true of Herod, a corrupt ruler whose evil practices were well-known. Most notably, Herod burned with the lustful desire to take his brother’s wife. So great was Herod’s adulterous desire that he divorced his wife and unlawfully married his sister-in-law, the wife of his half-brother, Phillip. Earlier, when John the Baptist rebuked Herod for taking his brother’s wife, Herod refused to listen. Now, as John warns about the unquenchable fire that is about to come, Herod takes it personally. Believing that John the Baptist has now gone too far, Herod is determined to imprison him.

The literal story of Herod’s desire to imprison John the Baptist contains an eternal truth: that which is evil and false within us despises and fears what is good and true. Just as Herod refuses to listen to John the Baptist, there is something in each of us that will not listen to the voice of God, even if it is as simple and direct as, “Honor your father and your mother,” “You shall not murder,” “You not commit adultery,” “You shall not steal,” or “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is the part of us that says, “No one can tell me what to do.” “I don’t want to hear what the Word of God has to say.” “I don’t care about the Ten Commandments.” Or, as it is written in the language of sacred scripture, “Herod shut up John in prison” (Luke 3:20).

A practical application

There are times when losses, hurts, or disappointments might arise in our mind. Perhaps it is a memory of a time when we were treated unfairly, or a time when someone let us down, or a time when we didn’t get what we wanted. Every time we think about the incident, it “burns us up” all over again. In sacred scripture this is called “an unquenchable fire.” But we can also ask the Lord to help us transform the experience into something that could be useful to us and to others. Otherwise, it is useless “chaff.” As an example, a memory of how it felt to be overlooked or ignored can help us be more aware of others. And the memory of a time when someone cheated us can be a wake-up call reminding us of how important it is to be honest in all our dealings. In this way, the fire of a burning resentment can be replaced by a fire that will not burn us up, but rather one that will lift us up. It all depends on which fire we allow to be ignited within us. As John the Baptist puts it, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Jesus Prays at His Baptism

21. And it came to pass when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus, having been baptized, was praying, that heaven was opened,

22. And the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily appearance like a dove upon Him, and there was a voice from heaven, saying, “Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.”

Herod was indeed planning to shut up John in prison, but this would not take place until sometime after John had the opportunity to baptize Jesus. As it is written, “It came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, heaven was opened”. Although this episode is also reported in Matthew and Mark, the Gospel of Luke is the only one which mentions that Jesus prayed during His baptism. This emphasis upon prayer in Luke is consistent with the premise that a major theme of this gospel is the reformation of the understanding—the part of the mind that is focused on learning truth, having faith, and communing with God in prayer.

It should also be noted that this episode includes the beautiful words, “heaven was opened,” suggesting that revelation took place as Jesus prayed, a revelation which found expression in the divine utterance: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).

This episode speaks to each of us of the importance of prayer in our lives. These are the times when we turn inward in search of the Father, listening for guidance, instruction, comfort, inspiration, and revelation. This process of turning inward in search of that which is deeply spiritual is essential. Without it, our efforts to serve others will be based on the weak and crumbling foundation of our own self-hood. We should never let our egos interfere with the great work the Lord wants to do through us. In prayer, we quiet the inner chatter, we enter the stillness, we speak to God and listen for the divine response. As it is written in the Hebrew scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

“The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

To silence “the earth” is to temporarily put aside the cares of the external world while resting in God. In brief, it is the endeavor to silence the voice of the ego long enough to hear the voice of God. This is at the heart of a contemplative life. 8

Before beginning any vital work, the first step is to begin with prayer. Jesus’ baptism in Luke captures this idea beautifully. Jesus was about to begin His public ministry. But before the heavens could be opened to Him, before the revelation and the inspiration could come, Jesus needed to take that first crucial step. He needed to pray: “And while He prayed, heaven was opened.” It was only then that He was ready to begin His public ministry. As it is written, “Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age”.

Teachings like these remind us of how important it is to precede action with contemplation, and precede public service with private devotion. While ministry and service are noble ends, they must be filled with the wisdom of spiritual purpose. Behind every successful, worthwhile action is a life grounded in contemplation and prayer. 9

The Ascending Genealogy

23. And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years [of age], being, it was supposed, the son of Joseph, of Eli,

24. Of Matthat, of Levi, of Melchi, of Janna, of Joseph,

25. Of Mattathias, of Amos, of Naum, of Esli, of Nagga,

26. Of Maath, of Mattathias, of Semei, of Joseph, of Juda,

27. Of Joanna, of Rhesa, of Zerubbabel, of Salathiel, of Neri,

28. Of Melchi, of Addi, of Cosam, of Elmodam, of Er,

29. Of Jose, of Eliezer, of Jorim, of Matthat, of Levi,

30. Of Simeon, of Juda, of Joseph, of Jonan, of Eliakim,

31. Of Melea, of Menan, of Mattatha, of Nathan, of David,

32. Of Jesse, of Obed, of Boaz, of Salmon, of Naasson,

33. Of Aminadab, of Aram, of Esrom, of Perez, of Judah,

34. Of Jacob, of Isaac, of Abraham, of Thara, of Nachor,

35. Of Saruch, of Ragau, of Phalec, of Heber, of Sala,

36. Of Cainan, of Arphaxad, of Shem, of Noah, of Lamech,

37. Of Mathusala, of Enoch, of Jared, of Maleleel, of Cainan,

38. Of Enos, of Seth, of Adam, of God.

The episode of Jesus’ baptism is followed by an account of His genealogy. The genealogy of Jesus was first recorded in the opening chapter of Matthew, verses 1-17. According to that genealogical record, Jesus’ lineage is given in a descending order, down from Abraham to David (fourteen generations), down from David to the captivity in Babylon (fourteen generations), and down from the captivity in Babylon to the birth of Christ (fourteen generations). This is a genealogy of descent. It begins with Abraham and descends through names like Isaac, Jacob, David, and Solomon all the way down to Joseph, and finally down to the humble birth of the baby Jesus, born in a stable in Bethlehem.

However, in the genealogy that is given in Luke, everything begins with Jesus whose next immediate ancestor is Joseph, followed in ascending order by names like David, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham all the way up to Noah, Methuselah, Adam, and, finally, at the summit of this ascending order, God.

What might be the spiritual reason for a descending order in Matthew and an ascending order in Luke?

The reason lies in an understanding of the internal sense, and in the special focus of each gospel. In Matthew, a major theme is the gradual revelation of Jesus’ identity, first as the human son of David, the son of Abraham, but not yet as the divine son of God. Therefore, Matthew begins with an account of the way in which God clothed Himself in accommodation to humanity’s state of reception as He descended through the heavens and was born on the earth. In other words, He came down. He descended to our level to meet us where we are, to live and dwell among us. Thus, the genealogy of Jesus, as given in Matthew, is a genealogy of descent.

In Luke, however, our focus is different. Here we are focusing upon our ascent. This gospel is not so much about the way the Lord comes down to us, but rather about the way we strive to ascend to God. This is why the Gospel of Luke opens with Zacharias burning incense in the temple.

It was believed that the smoke of the incense ascended towards God in the same way that our prayers ascend toward heaven. As it is written in the psalms, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2). 10

So, the ascending genealogy in Luke represents one of the major themes of this gospel—the reformation of our understanding. It is about lifting our minds upward to God as we strive to understand Him and His Word at their loftiest conception.

The Gospel According to Luke guides us in our efforts to make that ascent. Through prayerfully reading and meditating on the Word with the uses of life in mind, our understanding is gradually raised above the promptings of our unregenerate will. The fact that we can do this—that is, live by the higher truths of God’s Word rather than the selfish desires of our lower nature—is, indeed, a miracle. 11

And so, Jesus’ genealogy, as given in Luke, takes us ever upwards. It begins with Jesus who was born “of Joseph,” then ascends through many generations, including, in ascending order, names such as “David of Jesse,” “Isaac of Abraham,” “Shem of Noah,” and, finally, at the summit of this ascending genealogy, “Adam of God” (Luke 3:23-38).

This, then, is an account of Jesus royal genealogy, tracing His divine origin all the way up to His beginning in God. Having descended to earth and taken on the human condition with all its weakness and frailty, with all its tendencies to self-love and selfishness, He would now begin the struggle to put off what was merely human and become one with the divine within Him.

This would be the upward ascent, but it would not be an easy one. At every turn, He would be tempted to succumb to the promptings of the flesh and the allurements of the world. It would be a fierce battle, but Jesus was ready. Having been introduced to the literal truths of the Word (the “baptism of water”), and having received the Holy Spirit while He prayed, Jesus was well-prepared for the battle. For Jesus, it would be the beginning of His “baptism of fire.” It is the battle that we all must undergo.

The truth we learn cannot just remain in our memories; it must also be tested in the trials of life.

For Jesus, this begins in the very next episode.

Footnotes:

1True Christian Religion 650: “We read in many passages in the Word that God is angry, takes revenge, hates, condemns, punishes, throws people into hell, and tempts them, all of which are the actions of a wicked person, and so are evils. But … the Lord is never angry, never takes revenge, hates, condemns, punishes, throws people into hell, or tempts them; thus He never does evil to anyone.”

2Arcana Coelestia 2034: “When there was no longer any love and therefore no longer any faith remaining in the whole world, then the Lord came [into the world]. See also True Christian Religion 370:3: “The Lord our Savior is Jehovah the Father Himself in human form. For Jehovah descended and took on human form so that He might be able to draw near to people, and people might draw near to Him.”

3Arcana Coelestia 9372:3: “The ‘wilderness of Judea’ signifies the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was ‘in the wilderness,’ that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever.” See also, Apocalypse Explained 730:4: “In the Word, wilderness and also solitude and waste places are mentioned in many passages, and these signify the state of the church when there is no longer any truth in it because there is no good.

This state of the church is called a ‘wilderness’ because in the spiritual world the place where those dwell who are not in truths because they are not in good is like a wilderness, where there is no verdure in the plains, nor harvest in the fields, nor fruit trees in the gardens, but a barren land, parched and dry.”

4Conjugial Love 146: “No love in people or angels is entirely pure, nor can it become so. But the Lord regards primarily the objective, purpose or intention of the will, and therefore to the extent that people have the objective, purpose or intention and persevere in them, to that extent they are introduced into purity and progressively draw nearer to it.”

5Apocalypse Explained 475: “The ‘waters’ with which John baptized signified introductory truths, which are knowledges from the Word respecting the Lord; ‘the Holy Spirit’ signifies Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; and ‘fire’ signifies Divine good proceeding from Him.”

6Divine Providence 296[8]: “Divine providence is said to operate in the least particulars in every person, in an evil person as well as in a good one. It consists, however, in its continually permitting for the sake of its goal, and permitting only such things as are conducive to the goal, and in its continually examining, winnowing, and purging the evils.” See also Apocalypse Explained 374:14: “The chaff that He will burn with ‘unquenchable fire’ signifies falsity of every kind that is of infernal origin, which He is to destroy.”

7True Christian Religion 455: “People in hell enjoy the pleasures of all kinds of evil; that is, they take pleasure in hatred, in revenge, in killing, in looting and stealing, in verbally abusing others, in blaspheming, in denying God and in desecrating the Word. These pleasures lie hidden in cravings on which they do not reflect. Evil people burn with these pleasures like torches on fire. These pleasures are what the Word means by ‘hellfire.’” See also Spiritual Diary 2028: “The more blood they spill, and the more of their neighbor’s wealth they rake in, the more they want, never being satisfied. Their hunger increases and grows, even to the point of wanting to possess heaven itself.”

8Arcana Coelestia 2535:  “Praying is nothing else than internal speech with the Divine, and  at the same time revelation.” See also Arcana Coelestia 636: “The ‘earth’ signifies self-love and whatever is contrary to heaven.”

9. The idea that prayer should precede action is beautifully illustrated in the following passage about “Charity in the Common Soldier”: “Before the battle he raises his mind to the Lord, and commits his life into His hand; and after he has done this, he lets his mind down from its elevation into the body and becomes brave; the thought of the Lord—which he is then unconscious of—still remains in his mind, above his bravery. And then if he dies, he dies in the Lord; if he lives, he lives in the Lord” (Charity 166).

10Arcana Coelestia 10198: “The smoke of incense signifies the elevation of prayers, and in general the elevation of all things of worship. This is evident in the words, ‘The smoke of the incense ascended [ascendit] with the prayers of the saints’
(Revelation 8:4).”

11Arcana Coelestia 863: “But because a person’s will is nothing else than evil desire, the Lord has miraculously taken steps to prevent that which constitutes the understanding part, which is the truth of faith, from being immersed in the evil desire of the will…. Without this miraculous provision [the separation of the understanding part of a person’s mind from the will part of a person’s mind] … no one could ever have been saved.” See also Conjugial Love 498: “Without the ability to elevate one’s intellect above the love of one’s will, a person would not be human but an animal, since an animal does not possess that ability.

Consequently, neither could anyone make choices and by choice do that which is good and useful, and thus no one could be reformed and led to heaven and live to eternity.”