Matthew Four – 2010

Chapter 4★ v. 1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Wait a sec, is this a paradox?  No, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This shocks me (as does a lot of the bible).
✪ The Spirit may lead us into the wilderness, but this is not to be fought against or avoided- If it was necessary for Jesus, why wouldn’t it be necessary for us.  This wilderness/devil experience should be viewed as less of a “downtime”, or “low-light”, or “bad season”, it can’t really be a bad thing if the Holy Spirit himself lead Jesus there.  Rather it may be better to consider it as a war time.  Soldiers don’t go to war because they like fighting, because killing is fun, and their favourite colour is green.  Soldiers are happy to be led into a war because of the motivation to stand & defend.  To make ground, and to keep the fire at bay. It is hard work, gruesome, terrifying, and difficult to understand.  However, a soldier can soldier on knowing that his work is foundational to the integrity of the state he defends.
What’s most notable about Jesus’ experience is that it was not a decision made on his own, but something he was led into by the Holy Spirit, and he willfully (although possibly apprehensively)submits to the Spirit with a purpose in his heart.  His motivation was to do the will of the Father whatever it may be (John 5:19). So, as he walked into the desert, his thinking may have been thinking ‘I wonder what my Father has in mind- will it be difficult. Yes! It is difficult, but I know my Father is a good and loving Father and he would not lead me into something that is bad, but rather only something that is ultimately good! Therefore, I will bear this test as an offering to my Father because my faith is in him!‘  I think we would all benefit from thinking like that.

★ v. 3And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”.Interesting points.  1) The devil asks “If you are the son of God…” Jesus know’s he is the son of God because 40 days ago the Father said to him as the Holy Spirit descended upon him “17This is my beloved Son,c with whom I am well pleased.”, 2) Jesus is tempted! A commentary I read made a point of this because Jesus’ was without sin, which means temptation can not be defined as sin, but rather it is affliction.  2) Jesus opposes with Scripture, 3) Jesus’ first priority is to do the will of the father.
Jesus first priority to do the will of the father is reflected in his scriptural comeback. “‘Duet 8:3 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” A beautiful statement, and especially when understood in context of Duet 8:3.  (Here is an excerpt from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary: ““The Lord . led thee (said Moses to Israel, at the close of their journeyings) these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only,” &c., “Now, if Israel spent, not forty days, but forty years in a waste, howling wilderness, where there were no means of human subsistence, not starving, but divinely provided for, on purpose to prove to every age that human support depends not upon bread, but upon God’s unfailing word of promise and pledge of all needful providential care.”.) The commentator reminds us that Jesus remembers what Moses learned the hard way– it is more important to obey the will of his father than it is for him to eat! Even after fourty days without food!!
Jesus does have the power to turn the stone to bread (after all he created all of creation John 1:1) and he is the Son of God, he is also  hungry and deserves to eat! However, he will not sacrifice his responsibilities for his rites.  He will not sacrifice the glory of the Father for his own individual glory.
✪ Do I practice this as a reality.  Do I value God’s word above food. I would say for myself (and I would assume for many others) that this Jesus quoting, Devil rebuking scripture does not really rest as a reality on the mind and heart.  If I go to bed on an empty stomach, I get up and eat! Do I do the same with scripture? No! Even though in one day, it is more important for me to hear God’s voice than eat! This is a reality that has to sink in! The problem with starving your spirit but feeding your flesh is the same problem found in Romans 8:4-9. I think it is safe to say that you can’t really be walking well in the Spirit, and starving it at the same time.

★ v. 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him 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,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”. Satan is really testing Jesus here. In his last attempt he tried to get Jesus to compromise his faith in God’s will by convincing him his own will is more or just as important.  After Jesus responds by saying “It is more important for me to obey the Father than it is for me to eat [paraphrase]”, Satan sees that Jesus cares so much about what the Father thinks about him, so he does his best to plant a seed of doubt– “But does the Father really care that much about you? [paraphrase]”.  By taking Jesus to a high point and saying “throw yourself off and God will catch you… won’t he? [paraphrase]”, the devil is really trying to pose the question ‘Do you really think that you’re so important that God would stop you from dying even if you do this one stupid thing that will surely kill you’.
The Devil takes the focus off of ‘are you or are you not the Son of God’ and onto ‘do you really think God cares that much about you’.  He compares Jesus worth not by title Son of God, nor by his power as in the previous temptation, but this time by the Father’s love.  ‘Are you sure God really loves you [paraphrase]’.
Maybe in that moment, Jesus remembers what happened 40 days ago, when the Father said “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased”. Whatever he does, he remembers God’s promise and his love and does not let the enemy sway him from it.  He does not let one scripture quoted out of context throw him into a whirlpool of confusing but quickly puts it back into context by applying more of God’s word.
✪ The lesson for me here, is to not let worries or insecurities define my identity in God, but rather his promises, his word, his voice. And this solution is found in the reading and memorization of Scripture, God’s chosen primary source of input into my life.

★ v. 8Again, 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.”10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’d”. I have to admit that I find this bit just a little funny.  Satan has one more go, looks like he didn’t really plan that one out to well, he as probably counting on one of the first two. I think he must of been a little frustrated at this point.  As a last resort he takes Jesus to a high place and shows him all the Kingdoms of the world and offers them for the small price of worshiping Satan…
I think by this time Jesus may have also been frustrated, given that he was hungry and instead of eating, he was listening to the Devil talk about the deal he will get if he bows down to him.  1) Jesus is from heaven.  The kingdom that he is used to are far greater than the sinful cursed kingdoms of the world that he is about to die for. 2) Satan might have power over the kingdoms of earth, but God has power over Satan.  If Jesus wanted all the kingdoms of the earth, all he would have to do is ask, (actually the Father already wants to give them to him). Jesus has had enough and tell Satan to get lost!  He adds a Scripture to demonstrate two reasons why his proposition is so futile.

  1. Worship the Lord your God…”.  The first and greatest commandment! Deut 6:5Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and strength“. Matt 22:37Love the Lord you God with all your heart and all your soul & all your mind.“. John 14:15“If you love me, you will obey what I command.
  2. “…and serve him only“. Romans 12:1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spirituala act of worship. In the greek, the word (λατρείαν) worship and service  are interchangeable here.

✪ The point is, the phrase “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” is emphatically stating that we should be worship God alone! It is the first and greatest commandment because it calls for us to gaze into the glory of God and be so utterly dumbfounded by him that we are undistracably obsessed with his wonder! Unable to cease worshiping, and unable to worship anything else!
It is a little of track, but this is a good place to mention that, if there is a moment or a second in your day that your are not worshiping God, your have sinned in that second.  You need to repent and turn to worship God with every second of your life.  It is impossible for us to fulfill in the flesh, which is why we need Jesus so much! This is the most important lesson I have learned this year.

★ v. 11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
✪ If nothing else, this is a reminder for us that Jesus was not left to his own devices before, throughout, and after his fasting and temptation.  It was the Holy Spirit after all that led him there. When Satan leaves , he is cared for by angels. This might cast a relative template of what we can expect before, through-out and after trials we face today.  We are not to expect that by walking in the Spirit we are automatically walking away from danger or tribulation. Rather we are walking directly into it! Directly into the crucible where our faith is proven and our shortcomings rise to the surface where they can be exposed and scooped out. But we also know that the fire is not the end, the rest is coming ★Mat 11:28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  We also know from the next verse that the rest is so good that the fire seems small! Matt 11:29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

★ v.  17From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”.
★ v. 23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News 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. 25Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis,f Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
★ 5:1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them, saying:
✪ Jesus preaches! A big sarcastic thanks a lot, to all those people who mis-quote the supposed St. Francis of Assisi line “Always preach the Gospel, if necessary use words.” It’s actually not a bad piece of advice if people didn’t use it as an excuse to not talk about God! “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” is practically a swear word these days- however for Jesus it was the first part of his ministry. Jesus was a preacher and everyone who goes under his name, proclaiming to follow him and live in his example is to do the same (yes including me, and including you too). This is really a priveledge, but somehow Christians have forgotten Romans 8:18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Most of us would not hesitate to exclaim with great enthusiasm if we were proclaiming the message of free donuts or hotdogs, but somehow the infinitely more valuable salvation in Christ escapes our lips.  Isaiah 59: 21And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken!

Continue to chapter 5  ➜

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