Matthew 4:1-25 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus is Tempted
Comments for Study 6

Matthew 4:1-25
Memory Verse: 4


I. It is Written (1-12)

Jesus' Early Travels

>1. Where did Jesus go? Who lead him? Why? Why at this time?

Matthew 4:1 "Then Jesus was lead by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."

* "Then" -That is after Jesus' baptism. Jesus' baptism was similar to a presidential inauguration, that official mark of the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

* "Jesus was lead" -When Jesus was baptized, thus beginning his ministry, he did not take charge, but rather let God take charge; in his case God the Spirit whom lead him.

* "by the Spirit" -Jesus was not tempted by sinful desires as man is. Rather he was lead by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. In this fact the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ" was wrong.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Lead us not into temptation." I have wondered if this event has some link to that prayer in the fact that this is what it means when God leads us into temptation.

* "into the desert" -Most likely the Judean desert which was in the south of Jerusalem and Jericho and west of the Salt Sea (aka Dead Sea).

* "to be tempted" -As the book of Hebrews says, "Jesus was tempted in every way we are, but is without sin. Hebrews 2:17-18 says, "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

Another reason Jesus was tempted at the onset of his ministry was that he, the second Adam (without the sinful nature that everyone inherited from the first Adam), would overcome the temptations of the devil that the first Adam did not overcome. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says, "So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit."

1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perished even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

* "by the devil" -The devil did the tempting, not the Spirit.

Matthew 4:2 "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was, he was hungry."

* "After fasting forty days and forty nights" -Jesus prepared for the temptation by fasting.

>2. Who is the devil? (Jude 6, Colossians 1:13, John 8:44) How does he work? (2 Cor. 4:4)

Matthew 4:3 "The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'"

* "The tempter" -This is the devil. The devil is called the tempter because he tempts people to sin, go against God's way, doubt God's love and trust. Satin's powers are given to him by God. He is limited in power. He can only tempt us to sin; he can not make us sin. But in his tempting, the devil is very cleaver. He can and does make darkness seem like light; bad seem like good; he clouds the truth by lies and deceiving so that we can not tell the truth from a lie. The power of suggestion is strong to weak willed mankind.

Jude 6 says of his beginnings, "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgement on the great Day." Colossians 1:13 says that his kingdom is "the dominion of darkness.

In John 8:44 Jesus said to the Jews who did not believe and opposed him, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

2 Corinthians 4:4 says of the devil, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

The devil's destruction is for sure. Revelation 20:2, 3 and 10 say, "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years ere ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time..." And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

* "came to him" -The devil came to Jesus. Jesus did not go to him. Nor did the Spirit lead Jesus to the devil; he only lead him into the desert to be tempted. As in heaven as on earth; for in heaven the devil had to go to Jesus too. (Job 1-3)

>3. What was the first temptation? Why would this be a opportune time and effective temptation at this time?

* "If you are to Son of God" -The devil challenging Jesus' position, thus clouding the issue of the sin. Perhaps a good paraphrase is, "Why should you, the Son of God, be in this situation?"

* "tell these stones to become bread" -Man's food problem has been around since the fall of man. When Eve was tested food was used as the instrument of temptation. Jesus' temptation is greater because since Adam's sin, and because he sinned the ground is cursed in it's easy production of food for man. Genesis 3:19 says, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Jesus addressed this problem. Once, when the crowd wanted to make him king after he feed them with a miracle they "intended to come and make him king by force..." (John 6:15) He told them, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (John 6:25-27a) In general all men think they need to eat bread or any kind of food to live. But Jesus taught otherwise.

When we are hungry we think that the bread is the problem, but what is the problem is the lack of faith; that is the lack of trust the God cares for and loves us.

>4. How is this reflective of one of man's human problems? (Gen. 3:19; John 6:15, 25, 26; 3a) How did Jesus answer? What can be learned from Jesus' answer? Why would have the first temptation been wrong for Jesus to follow?

Matthew 4:4 "Jesus answered, 'It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.''"

* "It is written" -Deuteronomy 8:3 is where the quote is from, "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

* "Man does not live by bread alone" -God is the giver and sustainer of life. So whether we eat or not eat we will live. Man is both physical and spiritual so he can live with or without bread. Note: Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone..." Here "alone" indicates that man should eat too. But he should not live to eat alone. He also should meet his spiritual need and that is the first and most important need for the flesh dies but the spirit lives forever. Through this word Jesus establishes that the spiritual body is more important than the physical, but also that the physical is not to be ignored.

People really need to satisfy their spiritual needs first. Man spiritual needs are meet with God and his word.

If Jesus would have obeyed and made the bread when he was hungry, he would be using his power for selfish gains. He would then not be like man in every way, for man can not make bread from rock. Also he would deny man's true needs of the spiritual over the less important needs of the flesh.

>5. What was the next temptation? How does it suggest an easy and splendid way to seemingly succeed? What was the devil trying to get Jesus to avoid? What was Jesus' answer? What can be learned from his answer?

Matthew 4:5-6 "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.''"

* "If you are the Son of God" -This was also in the first temptation.

* "throw yourself down" -If Jesus were to do this then the people would awe him and make him king for he would prove to have powers greater then man.

Perhaps this temptation is saying that success and achievement will satisfy a person. If so then this teaches to not expect to achieve success and achievement without the cross of mission. People sometimes try to gain through deceitful channels and means. All want to be a "somebody" in the world, that is before man's eyes and ignore God and his approval. This never will come and even what one gains, he will lose in the end. Therefore I should seek God's approval through Jesus.

People think the ends justify the means. Satan was saying if Jesus did this he would be glorified by the praise of men. Of course Jesus wouldn't be glorified for long; the act's impact wouldn't have long glory.

* "For it is written" -The psalm that Satan quoted had nothing to do with what Satan implied it did. It was meant to help those who were going to be killed in this way for God would save us if it is his will.

Satan used the word of God to justify his point. Just because someone uses the word of God, it does not mean his message is from God. Many have used the word of God to advance themselves.

Matthew 4:7 "Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.''"

* "It is also written" -Deuteronomy 6:16 is the second quote Jesus used. It says, "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah."

* Jesus saw the heart of the temptation.

* God promises the believer a lot to comfort, encourage, and guide us. We should not use them to prove ourselves or God.

>6. What was the third temptation? How does this suggest compromise? How did Jesus answer? What can be learned from this answer?

Matthew 4:8 "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor."

* "all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor" -The world does have splendor.

Jesus' temptation

* See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by

Matthew 4:9 ""All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

* Some think that sinning just once doesn't seem too bad. But Jesus didn't think so.

Matthew 4:10 "Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

* "For it is written" -Deuteronomy 6:13 is where the third quote comes from. It says, "Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name."

In all three cases Jesus used the word of God to overcome the devil's temptation. But it is important to remember that he used and understood the word of God correctly.

>7. In all instances, how did Jesus overcome temptation? What does the fact that Jesus overcame all the devil's temptation mean to us?

Matthew 4:11 "Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him."

* "Then the devil left him" -1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

II. Jesus Begins to Preach (13-16)

>8. Where did Jesus go after his temptations? What did he do? Why? What was the situation of the people? (12, 16) Why and how was Jesus a great light to them?

Matthew 4:12-16 "When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned 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 to the sea, along 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."

* "John had been put in prison" -Matthew does not record that there is a gap in time here. John records that right after his temptation Jesus went to the area that John was baptising in. This is where some of the apostles meet Jesus for the first time. (John 1 & 2) John 3 and 4 are also before this event. Matthew does not stick to chronological order in his gospel as John does. Matthew is concerned about proving that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the King.

* "he returned to Galilee" -Jesus stayed in Galilee most of the time. He only went south to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feasts of the Lord and then quickly returned north. John records some of these trips south.

* "Capernaum" -a fishing port on the Sea of Galilee. One of the larger cities in Galilee.

* "the people living in darkness" -People had little hope, no faith, and no life direction.

* "a light has dawn" -Jesus said that he was the light of the world because he preached to good news.

Matthew 4:17 "From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

* John preached this to. 3:2)

* "Repent" -J. Vernon McGee writes in his Thru the Bible commentary, "Repent is an expression that always has been given to God's people as a challenge to turn around. Repent in the orginal Greek is "metanoia", meaning "to change your mind". You are going in one direction; turn around and go in another direction. Repentance is primarily for saved people, that is, for God's people in any age. They are the ones who, when they become cold and indifferent, are to turn. That was the message to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3, and it was the message of the Lord Jesus Himself... Non-believers are to believe in Jesus which is part of repenting."

* H.A. Ironside wrote, "Such a ministry is needed greatly today when men have lost, in large measure, the sense of the sinfulness of sin. It is useless to preach the gospel of the grace of God to men who have no realization of their need of that grace. Only when the soul is awakened to see its uncleanness and unrighteousness in the eyes of a holy God will there be the cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner." (From H. A. Ironside Commentary – Matthew.)

* "the kingdom of heaven is near" -Concerning this verse John Calvin writes, "When John says, that the kingdom of God is at hand, his meaning is, that men, who were alienated from the righteousness of God, and banished from the kingdom of heaven, must be again gathered to God, and live under his guidance. This is accomplished by a free adoption and the forgiveness of sins, by which he reconciles to himself those who were unworthy. In a word, the kingdom of heaven is nothing else than newness of life,” (Romans 6:4,) by which God restores us to the hope of a blessed immortality. Having rescued us from the bondage of sin and death, he claims us as his own; that, even while our pilgrimage on earth continues, we may enjoy the heavenly life by faith." (Calvin's Commentaries)

* The definition of the Kingdom of God is simple and complex. The simplicity of it is that any kingdom is where a king has complete and unquestionable control and authority. Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Still, those of us under modern day governments cannot have a complete understanding of this type of kingship. Most modern day governments allow its citizens to have freedom to own land and a home and freedom to choose where we will live and what we will do. This is not so with kingdoms of the past and even some kingdoms today.

The complexity of the definition of the Kingdom of God is because of two basic differences between Jesus kingdom and man’s kingdoms. First, the kingdoms of men and women are limited by the fact that their kings could not be one in satisfying love with the souls and spirits of their citizens. Jesus on the other hand is bound to his bride in spirit. Paul wrote, “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:29-32)

Second, the complexity of the definition of the Kingdom of God for us also exists because the kingdoms of men have always been ruled by sinful people whose love, protection, and control are limited and constantly flexed in and out of existence. Thus, kingdoms of men eventually have had their citizens’ rebel and break away from what became an unjust rule. For example England’s King George III’s rule became unjust in his thirteen North American colonies so his citizens in those colonies broke away from his rule and formed a new nation. The same happened in India and other areas of the kingdom of England. Thus, the shortcoming of man’s kingdoms is that they are ruled by sinful people whose love, protection, and control are limited.

>9. Why did Jesus call disciples at this time? (18-22) How did they respond? What can be learned from Jesus and his disciples?

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 make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him."

* "As Jesus was walking" -Jesus sought them out. This is not the first time he meet them. John records Jesus meet them right after he was tempted. (John 1:35-42)

* "Come follow me" -Jesus wants everyone to follow him. He is the loving, just, and wise King thus worthy to follow.

* "I will make you fishers of men" -Jesus does not call us just to save us. He calls us to learn from him with the understanding that we will do what he does. The age of the preaching of the gospel has always been about calling others to a life experience.

Matthew 4:21-22 "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, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

* "he saw two other brothers" Jesus sought them out. This is not the first time he meet them. John records Jesus meet them right after he was tempted. (John 1:35-42)

* "preparing their nets" -these four disciples were all fisherman from the same town. They were probably rival fisherman.

* "were in a boat with their father Zebedee" -eventually a young man will leave his father's side. Eventually, a young man needs to decide if he will follow Jesus because of his own personal faith.

* "immediately they left" -When Jesus calls us we should never delay.

>10. How did Jesus serve the many sick? How did he use his healing ministry in his mission work? What can be learned about the kingdom of God and it's work from verses 13-25?

Matthew 23-25 "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 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."

* "Jesus went throughout Galilee" -Matthew does not follow Jesus' ministry closely chronologically. His point is to present the fact that Jesus is the King and Messiah. His main audience was to be the Jewish and religious convert. Systematically he will first show how Jesus' teaching on the mount is a higher law than the Mosaic law, then miracles and spiritual battles, then a series of twelve parables, then the entry into Jerusalem where he will be crucified, die, and raise from the dead.

* "crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him" -see map