Daily Bible Reading for January 11, 2014: Matthew 3-4.
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Context and Meaning: Matthew chapter 3 jumps from Jesus’ birth and childhood, to shortly before His earthly ministry begins, around 30 AD. We begin with the introduction of John the Baptist. John lived a simple life, preaching God’s word, baptizing those who had confessed their sins, and preparing the way for Jesus Christ. He was the first prophet to appear in hundreds of years, which drew significant crowds to his teachings, including Pharisees and Sadducees, whom John rebuked for being hypocrites. His message was blunt, but truthful, and Jesus later echoed his words, “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” (Matthew 3:1; 4:17) when He began His ministry. John the Baptist baptized Jesus which is when Jesus was proclaimed the Son of God. Before Jesus began His ministry, He spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, and was thrice tempted by the Satan, who attempted to use the word of God against Jesus. This emphasizes the importance of knowing and understanding the word of God so that it cannot be twisted and used against you. Read more commentary on the temptation of Jesus here. Nearly one year passed between Jesus being tempted by Satan and the beginning of His ministry and the calling of His first disciples.
World History: Tiberius was Emperor of Rome at the time Jesus began his ministry. The Han dynasty in China regained power after a brief usurping. The Han dynasty would go on to rule another 200 years.