Friday, January 4, 2013

Matthew 4 - Temptation and Early Ministry

LINK: Matthew 4

Temptations of Christ (San Marco)
By anonimus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Temptation of Christ (mosaic in basilica di San Marco)

18. Satan tempts Jesus in the Wilderness: Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13

After His baptism, Jesus was led immediately by the Spirit for a time of testing by Satan in the wilderness which has been traditionally believed to be near Jericho. 

This might be obvious for those of you who have been through the Old Testament portion of the Bible Book Club, but I wanted to point out the "40 days" motif of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Examples of this motif are seen in Genesis 7:4; Exodus 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8; and Jonah 3:4. Jesus' temptation of 40 days parallels Israel's wanderings and temptation in the wilderness for 40 years. Note He quotes from Deuteronomy which took place during Israel's wilderness wanderings. 

Also, note that Adam and Eve met Satan in a beautiful garden where all their needs were met, and they lost, allowing sin and death to enter into the world.  Jesus met Satan in a barren wilderness where he had nothing to eat for 40 days, and He won, ushering in eternal life for all who would believe (Colossians 2:15; Romans 5:12, 18)!  YAY!

To be tempted comes from the Greek word, peirazein, which in the positive sense means to "try or make proof of." Satan is described here as "the tempter" (Matthew 4:3), and brings out the bad sense of this Greek word, "to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin." This temptation had a dual purpose. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to have His faith tried, while Satan wanted to entice Him to disobey the Father. As our reading goes on, we will learn more about the ways of Satan.

The temptation closely resembles the temptation of Eve:

1) Appeal to the physical appetite 
Satan tempted Eve with the one thing she could not have, even though she had plenty of food from the garden (Genesis 3:1). 
Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread while Jesus was hungry (Matthew and Luke 4:3).   
Jesus resisted with Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:3 - God's Word is food for life!

2) Appeal to physical safety 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would not die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:4). 
Satan tempted Jesus by telling Him, if He was the Son of God and Messiah, nothing could harm Him if He threw Himself from the highest part of the temple (Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:9).  Satan used the prophecy from Malachi 3:1. It was a common belief that the Messiah would come from the sky into the temple. He was tempting Jesus to display Himself in the way people expected. 
This misquoting of Scripture by Satan caused Jesus to counter with more Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:16 - don't test God!  God would display His Son in His way.

3) Appeal to an easy way to power and glory 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would be "like God, knowing good and evil" and this was why God was withholding this good fruit from her (Genesis 3:5). 
Satan wanted to give Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6, 7) that God had allowed him to rule (2 Corinthian 4:4, John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2). God had another way for Jesus to become King and that was via the cross. 
Again, Jesus responded with Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 - God alone deserves to be worshiped and served.
The score is: Satan 0, Jesus 1.  Stay tuned. The battle has just begun.

30. Jesus preaches in Galilee:
30a. Arrival in Galilee: John 4:43-45 
30b. Nature of the Galilean Ministry: Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:14-15

Yet not in Jerusalem and Judah will the light first dawn, but in the northernmost part of the land of Israel, a region which lay in darkness and death at the time Jesus came to fulfill the ancient prophecy, and which even John the Baptist had not been able to reach by his call to repentance. 
(The Gospel According to St. Matthew - An Introduction and Commentary by R.V.G. Tasker, page 56)
This part of the gospels is often called the "Great Galilean Ministry." The major cities included Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Nain, Cana, and Nazareth. Galilee is 60 miles long by 25 miles wide. It is mountainous with fertile valleys and an average temperature of 70 degrees. It was the most beautiful, productive and populous district of Palestine with grain and olive groves. Flora and wildlife still thrive there.  There was a mixture of races from Jew and Gentile backgrounds. 
Galilee of the Gentiles was a choice cradle for the universal Gospel. Jesus liked to mingle in the crowd. He loved human beings and here He found a dense population made up of heterogeneous elements of all types and nationalities.
(The Christ of the Gospels, p. 115)
One interesting thing: not one prophet had ever come out of Galilee.  

32. Jesus is rejected in Nazareth: Luke 4:16-30 

32b. Move to Capernaum: Matthew 4:12-16 (4:17 before 4:12-16)

From Cana, Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth. Luke is the only gospel writer who covers Jesus' rejection in His hometown of Nazareth. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power (dynamei, "spiritual ability") of the Spirit that descended on Him during John's baptism. While everyone praised Him, the news about Jesus spread. He proclaimed Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue of His hometown:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD. 

When Jesus said the "Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing," He was stating that He was the Messiah ("anointed one"). The hometown people doubted, and Jesus used two instances of miracles of grace to Gentiles when Israel remained in unbelief: 

1) Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-16)

2) Elisha and Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-19)

The people became angry because he mentioned Gentiles as being blessed! Jesus always went to the Jews first, but He wanted to make it clear that Gentiles were part of God's plan of salvation too. We will see this in the book of Acts also. 

As a result of Jesus' rejection from Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), he moved to Capernaum, the home of the official and his family who came to believe in John 4:46-54. This move fulfilled the prophecy quoted in Matthew 4:15-16 (Isaiah 9:1-2). This area was settled by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali after the conquest during Joshua's time. Capernaum became the "center of operations" for Jesus' ministry. 

10 Mark’s Gospel C. Jesus goes public image 2 of 2. Simon Peter and Andrew with Christ. Mortier
By Phillip Vere [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
33. Four Fishermen Follow Jesus: Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20

Tradition says that, John the son of Zebedee, was one of the two unnamed disciples at Bethany in the account of John 1:35-51, three of the four fishermen in this present account had already temporarily followed Jesus for a time, but they returned to their jobs as fishermen This is the permanent call. Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately followed Him. 

36. Jesus preaches throughout Galilee:  Mark 1:35-39, Luke 4:42-44, Matthew 4:23-25

By this time, Jesus had a busy ministry schedule, yet he rose in the early morning to pray after His busy day and before another busy day of ministry.

While He performed healing to authenticate Himself Jesus' primary mission was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. He was the "anointed one" who would proclaim the favorable year of the LORD (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2)


Satan is a bad dude. I do not think we take him seriously enough. He loves to get us when we are hungry for something to fill us (and I am not just talking about physical hunger here either). 

I met with a woman recently who works in a place where she encounters many people who probably have demonic influence in their life. She is also at a place of great hunger in her life, having a significant friend leave the area. As a result, she is seeing icky things. I encouraged her to "armor up" in the mornings by praying through the armor of Ephesians 6 
and the verses for “Protection in Spiritual Warfare” below. She has started doing this before she meets with clients, and it has made a big difference.

Fighting Satan with Scripture is what I have learned from today's reading!


This is from the "Morning Affirmations" section of Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship by Kenneth Boa. I invite you to pray this daily:
Protection in Spiritual Warfare 
O Lord, guard my heart against the temptations of the world and renew my heart and spirit: 
Since I have been raised up with You, O Christ, I will keep seeking the things above, where You are at the right hand of God. I will set my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2) 
I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I will let my requests be made known to You, O God. And Your peace, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-8) 
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, I will let my mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:9) 
O Lord, guard my heart against the weaknesses and temptations of the flesh so that I may reckon myself dead to sin: 
Father, I know that my old self was crucified with Christ, so that I am no longer a slave to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin. I will reckon myself as dead to sin, but alive to You in Christ Jesus. I will not present the parts of my body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but I will present myself to You, O God, as one alive from the dead, and the parts of my body as instruments of righteousness to You. (Romans 6:6-7, 12-13) 
O Lord, guard my heart against the attacks of the devil and give me the strength to resist him: 
As I submit myself to You, O God, and resist the devil, he will flee from me. (James 4:7) 
I will be of sober spirit and on the alert. My adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But I will resist him, firm in my faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9) 
I will take up Your full armor, O God, that I may be able to resist and stand firm. I put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness; I put on my feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; and I take up the shield of faith with which I will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. I take the helmet of salvation and the sword of Your Spirit, which is Your Word, O God. With all prayer and petition I will pray at all times in Your Spirit and be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:13-18) 
(Reprinted by permission from Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship by Kenneth Boa, pp. 7-9)
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