Matt. 4:1-2-Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted. He fasted there for 40 days and nights…and became hungry.
Matt. 4:3-4-Verse two says that Jesus became hungry…and immediately this verse says, “And the tempter came…” Isn’t that the way it usually works. Satan never hesitates for a moment when he has an opportunity. Trying to use Jesus’ hunger to his advantage he tempts Him to be self-sufficient, independent of God the Father, by commanding stones to become bread. It is an attempt to illicit pride…”If You are the Son of God…” In other words, “Why should You have to ask permission? You’re the Son of God! You can do whatever You want to do!” Satan was trying to get Jesus to sin. He had come to earth and in so doing had made Himself submissive to the will of the Father…that in so doing, He could live a sinless life. If He presumed upon His divine nature to accomplish this…He would be thwarting His mission, to fulfill the plan of salvation. Jesus says that it is far more important to be obedient to the God’s Word than to satisfy His hunger.
How many times are we tempted to do things on our own, to take matters into our own hand, to act on our gut feelings…apart from submitting our will to the Father? How many times have we justified breaking God’s law…because we felt that our personal interests or needs somehow suspends His law, or is more important than it is?
Matt. 4:5-7-The pinnacle of the Temple is 500 feet above the Kidron Valley. Now, since he could not thwart Jesus from accomplishing His mission, Satan attempts to provoke Jesus to accomplish it…but in a method that is different from that of the Father. Certainly, if Jesus was to jump off of the pinnacle and angels would appear and swoop down to His rescue…then the people would flock to follow Him. Jesus says that it is wrong to “put the Lord your God to the test”. In other words, don’t try to force God to do things your way (cf. Acts 15:7-10-they were trying to impose something on the Gentiles that God was not). It actually means that we are fighting against God…by not accepting His will and having the nerve to think that our way would be better.
Matt. 4:8-10-Satan now tells Jesus that he will give Him what He wants…if He will just worship him. However, Jesus knows two things: 1.-Only God is to be worshipped…period. For no reason, under no circumstances are we to ever worship anyone or anything else. 2.-While as the ruler of this world (John 12:31) Satan did have authority to make such an offer…that offer had no eternal value, only temporal; and, to do so would mean that while the kingdoms of the world would become His, they would be so only under the jurisdiction of Satan because by worshipping him, Jesus would be submitting Himself to him. Notice that Jesus speaks of this when He says, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” To worship means to serve. So while Jesus would be granted the kingdoms…He would have submitted Himself to the authority of Satan! What a double-cross. This last temptation is the very worst because it involved false worship…so, Jesus tells Satan to leave.
Matt. 4:11-Jesus was now not only physically exhausted, but spiritually fatigued. Remember, He was fully, 100% human…and this battle with Satan had been extremely intense. Satan had tempted Jesus to prove Who He was ("If You are the Son of God"-4:3,6) in terms of power over the realm of earth (physical), power over the realm of angels (Heavenly), and power over the realm of God (spiritual). He had spent Himself, totally. So, the angels ministered (Greek word is “diakoneo” from which we also get the English words “serve, deacon”) to Him.
Matt. 4:12-17-Jesus knows that if John had been put into prison…there was a good chance that they would come after Him next…and it was not yet time for that to happen. He had much work to do first. So, He distanced Himself from Jerusalem and went to Capernaum (a fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee). At the time He was staying in Nazareth, His hometown. But the residents there attempted to kill Him when He openly announced Who He was in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-30). From what Luke tell us, this contributed to His decision to move…and He went to Capernaum.
Matt. 4:17-Now Jesus had gone public. He had begun to announce openly Who He was and why He had come. His message was “Repent”…turn from your sins. And the reason was “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. He was speaking of the fact that He was there, in their presence, at hand. They needed to wait for the Messiah (“kingdom of Heaven”) no longer…when He arrived, it arrived.
Matt 4:18-22-Jesus is walking along the seashore of Capernaum. He sees two men, two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew. He calls them to be His disciples…and they follow Him. Further along, He sees two other brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee. He calls them to follow Him and they respond, as well.
Matt. 4:23-This verse gives us the three-fold approach to the ministry of Jesus:
- “teaching in their synagogues”…discipling people through the teaching of the Word of God
- “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom”…evangelizing, proclaiming the good news of salvation to the lost
- “healing every kind of diseases…”…meeting the physical and emotional needs of people for the glory of God.
A quick look ahead in Matthew. Matthew 4:23 and 9:35 are almost identical. They are like bookends…they each describe the three-fold approach to ministry by Jesus. Sandwiched in-between are the principles of His teaching (Sermon on the Mount) and the authority for His teaching (various instances of healing). Keep this in mind as you read the next chapters.
Matt. 4:24-25-As a result of His healing ministry, people from all over Israel were bringing their sick to Him.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to find who I am...not in my power, or what I can do...but in Who You are and my relationship with You. Satan is so cunning and deceptive. Please give me the spiritual discernment I need to know what is truly Your will. Don’t let me be confused and attempt to accomplish Your will in my own means, or for my own purposes.