08 John the Baptist, Jesus’s Baptism, and the Temptation

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Old Testament Prophecy of John the Baptist (the Messianic Forerunner)

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-6 and Malachi 4:5-6

Notes: These Old Testament passages foretell the ministry of one who would come in anticipation of the appearance of Messiah and who would make spiritual preparation for that ministry.

B. The Ministry of John the Baptist

Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:1-8; and Luke 3:1-18

Notes: Notice not only the substance, but also the impact of John’s ministry.

C. The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist

Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; and Luke 3:21-23

Notes: The record suggests strongly that after Jesus departed Nazareth to be baptized by John, He was gone (unexpectedly) for several weeks (at least three months), and that the next time He encountered His mother was at the wedding in Cana recorded in John 2.


  1. How public was Jesus’s baptism?
  2. What do you perceive to be the reason that Jesus went to be baptized by John?
  3. What is the significance of the Spirit coming upon Jesus so dramatically and explicitly following His baptism?
  4. What do you think was the primary and necessary significance of baptism by John?
  5. How do you understand the relationship between John’s baptism and “Christian” baptism (i.e., baptism practiced in the book of Acts)?
  6. The baptism of Jesus is more accurately perceived as the last act of His private life than as the first act of His public life (as it is generally perceived).

D. The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; and Luke 4:1-13

Notes: Notice that the narrative of each of the Synoptics moves from the temptation to the Galilean Ministry of Jesus.


  1. You will notice that the order of the temptations is different in Matthew than it is in Luke. How would you explain this seeming difficulty, and which of the two would you regard as the actual historical sequence?
  2. Do these temptations occur in the realm of space-time reality normally occupied by mortal human beings?

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).