Firsts are important in Scripture. When God reveals something about himself through a name not previously used, it’s a important moment. If it’s important enough to reveal through Scripture, the context in which God reveals himself is important to consider.
What about Jesus’ words? Here’s what each gospel records as the early words of Jesus:
- “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15)
- “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
- “Why is it that you were looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
- “What do you seek?” (John 1:38)
Jesus doesn’t contradict himself, and God’s Word doesn’t contradict itself. No author of the gospels reports the first words recorded are actually the first words revealed through Jesus. Obviously, Jesus spoke well before any of these points in his life. However, the first words of Jesus in each gospel reveal important facts and characteristics.
These words are spoken to John the Baptist in response to John’s attempt to prevent Jesus from coming to him for baptism. He thought it would be better for Jesus to baptist him instead of the opposite. Jesus’ reply convinced John to baptize him. Jesus acknowledges God’s will and his desire and determination to follow and fulfill it.
The first words of Jesus in Mark chronologically follow the first words of Jesus in Matthew, because John the Baptist has now been taken into custody. Jesus travels to Galilee to preach and emphasizes the importance and timing of his teaching. Jesus acknowledges God’s will and encourages others to follow.
The first words of Jesus in Luke go back several years in time when Jesus was twelve and traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. His parents began the return trip home without realizing Jesus had stayed behind. It took them several days to find him, and when they did, he was in the temple among the teachers, engaged in asking questions and listening. Those around him were amazed at his understanding…and his parents were astonished at his apparent disregard for where he should be. However, Jesus knew where he should be. Jesus’ words emphasize his commitment to God’s will…regardless of the cost and consequences.
The first words of Jesus in John are the latest chronologically. “What do you seek?,” Jesus asks of two disciples. Their answer, of course, is a who, not a what. They seek Jesus, and he invites them to follow. Jesus emphasizes his commitment to involving others in God’s will, which in and of itself is fulfilling God’s will.
In the coming weeks, we’ll explore many additional words of Jesus. What he said is important, because it reveals who he is. In order to follow Jesus, we must know Jesus.
Are you reading God’s Word in casual interest or in intentional engagement?
Knowing God and his will is life-changing. Seek to know him today, then live his will out loud.