Read Matthew 4
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “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.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus Begins to Preach
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 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.”
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
18 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. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus Heals the Sick
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. 24 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. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
Matthew 4 marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in this Gospel account. With his most important work still before him, Christ is led out to the wilderness as a final preparation. He fasts for forty days and nights, which points us back to other significant events in the Bible. The earth flooded for forty days and nights while Noah survived on the ark. The Israelites wandered the desert for forty years. Moses also fasted forty days and nights on Mount Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments. Goliath mocked the army of Israel for forty days before the shepherd named David killed him with a slingshot. There are more examples of time periods of forty throughout scripture. But in each case, the forty days or years preceded the coming of a new kind of world that God desired for his people.
So it was for Christ in the desert. A new kingdom was on the horizon that depended upon his death and resurrection. It’s no surprise then, that the “tempter” comes along in this story and attempts to derail Jesus from his mission by offering alternative and lesser kingdoms. But Jesus is too deeply rooted in the mission to be so easily undone. With each opportunity to succumb to sin in order to gain (in a worldly sense), Jesus resists temptation.
He completes his journey into the desert and returns to begin preaching and call his first disciples. All of a sudden, people start leaving their careers, their livelihoods, and their comforts behind to go follow this rabbi named Jesus. He would not trade the mission for the moment, no matter how appealing it may or may not have been.
Jesus’ days of anonymity will soon come to an end, and with that his life and message will challenge every power structure that exists in Israel. But a new kingdom is indeed at hand.
- What are the three things that Satan offers Jesus in this passage?
- What simple concept did Jesus preach?
- How can you shift your perspective from the kingdoms of this world to the kingdom of God?
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