Matthew 4 (NASB)
1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
“He then became hungry.” Then! It took Him 40 days to get hungry? Maybe Matthew means that he became hungry from fasting … not just on the 40th day, but through the process.
Note also that Jesus was led up by the Spirit to be tempted, and fasted in preparation. This of course played a role in the temptation as well.
3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”
5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'”
7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'”
8Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;
9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'”
11Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Jesus fought back, but not in His own authority. He quoted the Word of God. Note, Satan also tempted Him by mis-applying God’s Word, and Jesus corrected His interpretation by pointing out other verses that make clear the true intended meaning of God’s Word. We must be careful not to fall victim to those who would misinterpret God’s Word and lead us astray. This shows that Jesus knew the Word inside and out. Was He born with this knowledge? How much of His divine knowledge did He bring with Him, and how much was laid aside? We may never know, but either way we can be assured that intimate knowledge of the Word is essential to our surviving the temptation to make the Bible all about us. It is so easy to look for things in Scripture that make my life easy, or seem to say that God will provide for me without much required on my part. Jesus corrects this even though the Old Testament writing was all about Him! Lord, may I remember that the Bible is not about me, but is about Your love for all of us. Help me to correctly handle Your Word, and align my life with it. May I not read my views into Your words, but instead read Your words into my life.
12Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;
13and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
14This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15“THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI,
BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES—
16“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT,
AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH,
UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”
17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
How beautiful is this picture of the Light rising onto the people in darkness. Our world is covered with such darkness, and is in need of the light. What are we doing to bring the hope of the Son into those around us that are living in darkness? Some of them obviously don’t know it, but we need to be able to reveal to them the light, so that they can see how dark their lives have been. May we reflect His glory, and so shine His light to all we meet. May we shine His light in deed, even more than with our words.
18Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
19And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
20Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.
22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
This seems so hard to believe. They just dropped everything and followed! That was a total act of faith and trust in a man we have no reason to believe they knew. Matthew gives no background on what He said, if they knew Him or had even heard of Him before this meeting. Yet they followed Him. I think it is likely dangerous for us to conclude they must, of course, have known Him. Why else would they follow? We too easily discount the strength of Jesus character, and the clear sense that there was something special about Him. Crowds flocked to Him as His ministry grew. People on various occasions commented on the authority with which He spoke. Perhaps James and John simply knew that this Man was unique, and worthy of following. Maybe their father even encouraged them, though we know nothing of his reaction from this text. What a sparse and challenging story.
Note also the lack of pressure. Jesus says “follow me”, and they do. He doesn’t threaten them with eternal damnation. He doesn’t ask them to live lives that please Him first, then come. He invites, and offers a picture of what their new life will be like. Should this be our model for evangelism? Not one I see suggested very much. Many suggest more strong-armed approaches (“Turn-or-burn”) or more judgemental (give up ___ and then maybe God will accept you back) or more “lifestyle only” options where you say nothing. We certainly should live our life in a way that attracts others to the unique power of Christ in our lives, but we should be able to have a message to share as well. Just not an attacking message. It should be an invitation to something bigger and better than selfish living.
23Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
24The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them.
25Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.
The crowd grows bigger because of the power of the Messiah. Note that His healing is never seen as conditional. He doesn’t do background checks for sin. He doesn’t affix blame for each case. No condemnation for getting themselves into this state. There are no questions about what they have done to try to get themselves back on the straight path. No requests for proof that they will use their new-found health and wholeness for good purposes, or avoid going back to their ordinary lives. Jesus loves and heals all sorts of diseases. Recall earlier Galilee is called “Galilee of the Gentiles”. This was the border region, where Jewish areas were bordered by the gentiles. It seems likely that if people were bringing the sick from all over, some of those who came were gentiles who had some sympathy for the Jews and heard about this powerful Jewish healer. Maybe they were not looking for the Messiah, but surely they would have understood that something powerful was happening here. There is no way to know this for sure, but there certainly is no indication that anyone was excluded. Do we, as Christ’s followers offer this same equal opportunity grace and healing? or do we put conditions on our “service” that Christ never did?
Lord, may I never place conditions on my love and grace. May I love those in and out of the church, even those who are blatantly anti-Christianity. May I never place myself as judge of others, when I know that Christ loved all, and did not withhold His healing and grace from anyone.