"When Jesus entered public life He was about thirty years old, the son (in public perception) of Joseph...son of Adam, son of God."
"Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days He was tested by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up, He was hungry." Luke 3:23-4:2 (The Message).
I don't know about you, but as I read Luke's story, I am struck by the sober, down-to-earth way in which he reported the results of his investigation. There was nothing fanciful or imaginative about the details of his story. He was writing about things that happened.
At the age of thirty Jesus was eligible to enter the priesthood. But wait a minute. He was neither a Levite nor the son of a priest. He was from the tribe of Judah and His father was a carpenter and a builder. He had no earthly claim to priesthood.
But He had a connection with God the Father which overrode His human connections. As a twelve-year-old boy, He was already aware of His role as a Son, which took precedence over His obligation to be under the authority of Joseph and Mary. At the age of thirty He stepped into public view at the Jordan River to take up His office as High Priest, not in the order of Levi but in the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20; 7:15).
He was baptised in the River Jordan by John; baptised into humanity, baptised into John's ministry and baptised into His High Priesthood. After He was anointed by the Spirit and affirmed by the Father, He left the Jordan and made His way into the wilderness to be alone for a while. He had the connection with His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. Now He needed the strategy for the huge mission that lay ahead of Him.
Satan needed no invitation to join Him! He was there, hovering in the background and waiting to pounce at every opportunity. And that was just what the Holy Spirit wanted him to do. The devil was playing right into God's hands! If Jesus was to "get" God's modus operandi, Satan would help Him to understand what it was not. Get rid of the alternatives and the right way would become crystal clear.
At this point in His life Jesus was untested. He had passed the test of infancy, boyhood and youth with flying colours and affirmed by the Father -- "You are my Son in whom I am well pleased," but, from now on it would be a whole new ball game. He was stepping onto the battlefield, and it would be a fight to the death, not just the death of His physical body, but either His own death if He went the way Adam went (and He was fulfilling the role of the "last Adam"), or the death of His adversary if He consistently lived as a true son.
"During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 5:7-10 (NIV).
What was the "death" this passage is talking about? If it refers to physical death, then it is not telling the truth. Was Jesus saved from physical death? No. But He was saved from eternal death because of His "reverent submission". Does that mean that by becoming a man, Jesus risked eternal separation from God if He stepped out of line like Adam did? It surely does, otherwise He would not have been qualified to be the perfect lamb that took our place on the cross.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet He did not sin" Hebrews 4:15 (NIV).
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