Matthew Chapter Four

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In our study of Matthew chapter four we look at the temptation of Jesus and its purpose.

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Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

The translation of the Greek word to tempted is unfortunate and is better translated as tested. The idea of temptation is that someone can be bribed or talked into evil and the simple fact of the matter is that there was no chance that that was going to happen to Jesus. Testing, on the other hand, was used by God many times to prove what was in the heart of man. In chapter 3, we saw that Jesus was identified with man and so a part of that identification was the fact that He would have to go through the same things as the rest of mankind. This proving of what is in the heart of man was not for God's sake as He already knows what is in our hearts. So, why was it necessary to prove the heart of Jesus? We see the answer in the fact that it was the devil that was to test Jesus. You see, up to this point, Satan (who does not know everything) thought that he had a chance to defeat the plan of God because he did not know what was in the heart of Jesus. After this testing, the handwriting was on the wall and Satan knew that there was no chance for him and that he was doomed.

Matthew 4:2

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Before the testing came, Jesus had to be identified with the greatest of men. He fasted (no food or drink) for forty days and nights which identified Him with both Moses and Elijah. Moses fasted for forty days and nights when he went up on the mountain to receive God's commandments.The prophet Elijah did the same thing when his life was endangered by Ahab and Jezebel. He fasted before the Lord appeared to him to strengthen him. This reminds us that the purpose of fasting is to focus our minds on the things of God and trusting in Him. Today, the practice of fasting is often used as a badge of superiority by some believers. This was not its purpose throughout the Bible as it was to be a very personal thing between a man and God. As we shall see in Jesus' teaching (chapter 6), it was not even to be known to others that a man was fasting.

Matthew 4:3 & 4

The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.' Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."'

The first test that Jesus faced was the physical temptation of food. We might ask what was wrong with Jesus using His power to create food when He was hungry. The simple fact of the matter is that the devil was trying to get Him to rely on His own power instead of the provision of God. It is a physical test but it had spiritual implications because faith is complete trust in God not just in some areas. The devil will try to find our weakest spot and then try to get us to work at solving it instead of trusting in God to provide for the need. Jesus quotes the words of Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3 to answer the devil's test.

Matthew 4:5-7

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."' Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."'

For the second test, Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem. This was a spiritual test in pride as it was an attempt to force God to act. The devil quoted from Psalm 91:11 & 12 but used it out of context. The Psalm speaks of the fact that, if you trust in God, He will not fail to protect you. Jesus answered with the words of Moses again from Deuteronomy 6:16. The Israelites had demanded water from a rock as a sign that God was with them (see Exodus 17). Before they entered the Promised Land, Moses warned them to not test God like they had before.

Matthew 4:8-10

Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.' Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."'

This third and final test was a psychological test which was basically testing self-control. Jesus knew that He was going to be ruler of everything at the appointed time but Satan was trying to get Jesus to change God's timetable and to do things his own way. Jesus answered with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:13 where Moses reminded the people to only trust in God. In these three tests, we see that Jesus succeeded where Israel had previously fell. This testing proved that Jesus would not sway from god's plan no matter what.

Matthew 4:11

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

After the third test, we saw that Jesus told the devil to get away from Him and now we see that the devil obeyed. We are reminded that the devil temporarily left Him but would return periodically throughout Jesus' ministry on the earth.

Matthew 4:12-16

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali - to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 'Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.'

After Jesus' testing and the proving of His heart, He began His ministry of preaching. John the Baptist had been arrested and so He shifted His ministry headquarters to Capernaum. By doing so, the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled (see Isaiah 9:1 & 2). That area was a despised area as Gentiles had gathered there to live. It was considered a dark place because it was thought that they could not have a right relationship with God. As Jesus made the area his base of operations, the light was brought to the area.

Matthew 4:17

From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'

Jesus' preaching ministry picked up right where John the Baptist had left off. The kingdom of heaven was near because of the fact that Jesus was the gate to enter that kingdom. Repentance was necessary so that people would find the gate and enter through it.

Matthew 4:18-20

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him.

We see that Jesus called two common fishermen to join Him in His ministry. Immediately, they gave up their old way of life and began to follow Him. The apostle John tells us that Andrew had already met Jesus and had heard what had happened at His baptism. The hearts of these two apostles was tested and proven with their willingness to leave their jobs and follow the call of Jesus.

Matthew 4:21 & 22

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and is brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

The second set of apostles were fishermen as well. They were called and their heart was tested by the pull of family. They had to decide to follow Jesus even when that meant leaving their earthly father behind.

Matthew 4:23

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

We see that Jesus' ministry began in the local synagogues. This is a reminder that he came as the Jewish Messiah. We see that His authority in ministry was displayed by miracles of healing.

Matthew 4:24 & 25

News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Word of Jesus' miraculous physical healing spread and people brought their sick from far and wide. We see a list of types of afflictions and notice that Jesus was able to heal them all. This was a further demonstration of His authority over all of creation.

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