Monday, January 4, 2010

Matthew 4 - Temptation & Early Ministry

by Katrina

LINK: Matthew 4

There are several things to observe as you read through this chapter of Matthew.

First of all, notice that it was God's intention that Jesus be tempted by Satan. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for that very purpose. God's purpose was to demonstrate that Jesus was sinless and therefore worthy to be the savior who would redeem mankind. Satan's purpose, on the other hand, was to thwart God's plan by disqualifying Jesus as savior.

Jesus did not have a sin nature like we do, so he had no internal temptation to sin. The only temptations he would experience had to be external. In this account Satan tempted Jesus in three areas:

(1) Satan tried to get Jesus to use his divine power to meet his own physical needs. Jesus could have turned stones into bread, but that was not what he was there to do. He answered Satan with scripture (Deut 8:3), "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

(2) In the second temptation, Satan quoted scripture that said God would protect his own to suit his own purpose. Jesus answered with another scripture (Deut 6:16), "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." Satan isolated one passage of scripture to make it communicate what he wanted. Jesus knew to consider all of scripture, not just a single passage and refused to use scripture to try to "make" God do what he wanted.

(3) The third temptation was for Jesus to bow down and worship Satan and be rewarded with all the kingdoms of the world. This was a temptation to bypass the crucifixion yet still be ruler over all. Once again, Jesus replied with scripture (Deut 6:13), "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only." There is no wiggle room in this command. Note that God's word links our worship and our service together here. We will serve the one we worship; and will worship who/what we serve.

Satan lost the battle of temptation!

Matthew then jumps ahead to the time when John (the baptizer) had been thrown in jail. This event did not occur immediately after Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. During that time, Jesus lived in Capernaum. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. Many Gentiles made their homes in this area. They lived in spiritual darkness, but Jesus brought a great light when he preached to them.

There were also Jews in the area, and Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John (all Jewish men) to leave their fishing business and follow him. Jesus traveled about, preaching in the synagogues, healing all kinds of diseases, and casting out demons. Large numbers of people followed him as he traveled both sides of the Jordan River.

Oh, what to do when we are tempted! Whether the temptation we face is internal or external, the best defense is scripture. We need to be regularly reading and meditating on God's word so that it becomes a part of us. You are well on your way by joining us here with daily Bible reading. Just about every sin imaginable will be addressed in this year's reading of the New Testament. Keep your eyes and heart open to what God has to say, and especially to those areas where you personally struggle. God gives us the means to live lives that are victorious over sin! I'm very excited about this year's journey, chapter by chapter, through the rest of the Bible! And I'm glad each of you is joining us!

Father, thank you for the wonderful blessing of your word! You reveal yourself to us and also help us understand ourselves. May we seek to know you and to grow in our relationship with you as we journey through your word this year. In the name of Jesus, amen.