Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:5-7

5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

At the Jesus’s baptism, Satan was among the witnesses. He, Satan, saw the Father’s glory descending upon His Son. He had heard the voice of God the Father testifying to the divinity of Jesus. Ever since Adam’s sin, the human race had been cut off from direct communion with God. Communication between heaven and earth had been through Christ. Now that Jesus had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3), the Father Himself spoke. Before He had communicated with humanity through Christ; now He communicated with humanity in Christ.

Satan had hoped that God’s abhorrence of evil would bring an eternal separation between heaven and earth. But now it was apparent that the connection between God and man had been restored.

Satan saw that he must either conquer or be conquered. The issues of the conflict involved too much to be entrusted to his confederate angels. He must personally conduct the warfare. All the energies of apostasy were rallied against the Son of God. Christ was made the mark of every weapon of hell.

So Satan continued with his attack upon Christ. Having failed to convince Christ into turning the stones into bread to satisfy his hunger, he now brought Christ up to the highest point on the temple and told him; “Jump, through yourself down! If you are really the Son of God, and Satan certainly new that Jesus was, throw yourself down and have your angels help you or better yet, save yourself.

Satan then quoted part of the 91st Palm, verses 11 and 12. 11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

If we feel that we know the scripture better than the Devil, let them think again. Satan knows the scriptures by heart and will bend them, mold them, and only quote part of the scripture in order to prove his point.

Christ had no need to argue. He wrote the scripture through His profits. He knew Satan was using this text out of context. The 91st Psalm is a wonderful tribute to how God protects those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. How we will prosper and protect us when we abide under the shadow of the Almighty. If you are truly abiding in Christ, would you purposely place yourself in a position that would place yourself out of his protection? Certainly not! Because we abide in Christ, Christ will cause a thousand to fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand.

9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuse, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 For he has give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your way. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

This beautiful Psalm is a promise given to God’s last day people on how he will protect and guide those that truly love him into all true and that those who follow Him with all there heart shall escape the plagues that befall in the end of the time.

Jesus did not argue this point. Instead he quoted Deuteronomy 6:16; You shall not tempt the LORD your God.

The words used by Christ to spoil this attempt by Satan were originally spoken by Moses with reference to the first occasion in the wilderness when the children of Israel murmured for water (see Ex. 17:1–7). God provided His people with abundant evidence that He was leading His people and would provide their every need.

For example, the wonders of divine power displayed in Egypt at the time of their deliverance. Then the dramatic deliverance at the Red Sea, followed by the sending of the manna. Upon being supplied with food, the people had humbly promised that in the future they would trust the Lord. Yet, it was just a short time later, when given an opportunity to exercise faith, they accused Moses of intending to dispose of them in order that he might enrich himself by their possessions (Ex. 17:1–4).

In spite of the evidence of divine kindness for their needs, they “tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Ex. 17:7). They put God to the test; that is, they challenged Him to prove His divine power.

Their sin consisted in the fact that they came to God in the wrong spirit—one of demanding with complaining and anger rather than that of a humble, patient faith. Unless their demand was met they refused to believe in God.

It was in this same spirit that Satan now proposed that Christ should put His Father to the test. Instead of accepting by faith the Father’s proclamation at the Jordan in affirming Him to be the Son of God; Satan tempted Jesus to experiment or test God the Father in order to prove to His satisfaction that this was so. But such an experiment would spread doubt upon the heavenly throng rather than strengthening their faith.

Jesus desired to lift up the faith of the angels in heaven and fallen man, so He responded, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”

Do we sometimes temp God as the ancient Israelites and Satan did? Do we make demands God asking Him to fulfill our needs? God has always said he would supply our every need. It is a matter of faith in God that we rely upon God for our every need. He has never promised to make us rich in the things of this earth, but like the manna given to the children of Israel each day, he has promised to give us daily what we need.

Again, the devil took Him up . . . .

Journey Through The Book of Matthew

Journey Through The Book of Matthew

Matthew 4:1-4

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the temper came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

The gospel of Mark doesn’t give us nearly the details that Matthew does concerning the events about to unfold. However, Mark gives a very vivid description when he writes: “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12)

I once had an older member in the church tell me that God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.

Unfortunately this is one of those texts or passages that does not translate well into modern English. James the brother of Christ writes in the book that bears his name makes this very clear when he said. James 1:13: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone. The Spirit led Christ into the wilderness so that the time could be used to prepare himself for the trials to come. By fasting and prayer He was to brace Himself for the bloodstained path He must travel.

Mighty issues for the world were at stake in the conflict between the Prince of light (Jesus) and the leader of the kingdom of darkness (Satan). After tempting man to sin, Satan claimed the earth as his, and styled himself the prince of this world. Having conformed Adam and Eve to his (Satan’s) own nature. Satan thought to establish here upon this earth his empire. He declared that men had chosen him as their sovereign. Through his control of men, he held dominion over the world. Christ had come to disprove Satan’s claim. There would be no second chance for this fallen planet. Christ had to prepare and he did this with prayer and fasting.

Satan well knew that Jesus had gone into the wilderness and Satan could see His weakened state after the forty days of fasting. So he came upon Jesus and tempted him to satisfy His own needs. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Did Christ have the power to accomplish such a miracle? Yes, he certainly did! Then why wouldn’t Christ say, “Ok, I can do this. What harm could there be?”

Christ did not come into this world to serve himself but to serve man. When Christ left heaven to be born a baby, he left behind his kingly power and glory and took upon himself the form of sinful man. He suffered the same as any one of us would suffer. If at any time he had picked up his power to be used in a selfish manner he would have failed.

Genesis chapter 3 is the tragic story of the fall of Adam and Eve. Let’s review this story for just a moment. Perhaps a better understanding of this story will give us insight into this story.

The serpent and Eve had already started a conversation and in verse 4 the serpent drives home the point. 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and the tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.

The tree desirable to make one wise. Were they not already wise? Had not God given them dominion over the earth, to keep it and dress it? (see Genesis 1:26-28) If then they were already wise and rulers of the earth, what more could they possible need? Yet they suddenly desired to put their needs above God’s desires for them. Suddenly Adam and Eve put themselves before God and showed disrespect toward God and dishonored the law of God by choosing to do their own will over God’s will.

Now please keep this in mind. Man was not created a robot. He was created with a free will. A will free to choose. This freedom of choice had gotten Lucifer (Satan) into trouble when he desired to be greater than the Most High God (see Ezekiel 28:12 -15). He used the same reasoning upon our first parents in tempting them to be like God, to know good and evil. He tempted Christ in the same way to place his wants and desires above that of His Father who sent him. It is was a simple test for our first parents, a simple test for Jesus and it is a simple test for us.

The great temptation for Christ was to pick up his divinity. To use his divinity for his own good. He was sent to save and to serve. To save fallen humanity by serving them. By serving them, he restored them to physical, spiritual and mental health.

Yet for you and me, the greatest test for us humans is to pick up our humanity. Christ desires to lift us up to his level. The whole plan of salvation is dependent upon us being lifted up out of our fallen condition and restored to our former selves. When we accept Christ as our Saviour we are asking to be restored, but when we listen to temptation and fall, we are placing our humanity above Christ’s desire for our lives.

Christ responded temptation with scripture. Deuteronomy 8:3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

There are times in this life when our earthly wants and desire should become secondary to the word of God. Christ said, “I am the bread of life.”

Christ went into the wilderness and spent forty days with His Father gaining the strength that no earthly food could prepare us for. Christ answered temptation with scripture because we are involved in a spiritual war and temporal food will not sustain us in battle. Only spiritual food sustains us in a spiritual battle.

Christ choose to lay off his Divinity and become one like us. To be tempted like us and suffer like us, so that he could become our advocate before the court of heaven. If at any time he had allowed his divinity to come forth for his benefit all would be lost.

In the battle of this life, when we pick up our humanity, the battle is lost. Christ placed the wants and desires of His Father above his own needs and desires. He is asking us to set aside our humanity and establish a relationship with The Father that gives us the strength to do the will of the Father as Jesus did.

But Satan wasn’t through . . . .

NOTE TO THE READER: When I write on Biblical subject I use the term “Man”. This is not a reference to just the male gender. This is a reference to all mankind. If I offend anyone for using it in this context, I apologize.

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:16, 17

16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

John and Jesus made their solemn way into the Jordan River. John still with his doubts but nonetheless, determined to fulfill this request by Jesus. I can picture them standing in the muddy river. John holding on to Jesus as both stood just over waste deep in the water. The people standing silently upon the bank of the river as John’s clear voice rings out. I now baptize you in the name of the Father, God almighty.

Slowly Christ is lowered backward into the water until he is completely buried. Then hesitating for only a moment, John lifts Jesus back out of the watery grave. This is an outward expression of our faith in Christ that symbolizes our death to self and our old self of sin, then when lifted up out of the water symbolizes our rebirth into the saving grace of Christ.

If baptism is an outward expression of our faith in Jesus and the dyeing of our old self of sin, why would Christ who never sinned request baptism. For Christ, he did it to be an example to us of what we should do upon accepting Christ as our savior and upon confessing out sins. But Christ was changing his role in life at the same time. Christ was also leaving behind his old life behind. He was leaving his home town, his family and his profession as a carpenter behind. He was beginning a new ministry.

The same should be for us. Some upon accepting Christ as their savior may also leave their friends and family and change their profession and enter into a life of ministry for their Lord and Savior.

Jesus upon coming out of the water, made his way toward the river bank. When upon the bank of the river he knelt down to pray (see Luke 3:21) the heaven was opened and the spirit of God descending like a dove and rested upon Jesus. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

John the beloved disciple of Jesus wrote in his gospel these word of John the Baptist. 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me. ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

Before baptism, the Holy Spirit can lead you and guide you unto all truth. The Holy Spirit can point out faults within your life that need correcting and can give you the power, the victory over those faults. But upon baptism, the Holy Spirit can now dwell within you and can use you to reach others for Christ. This is true baptism by water and the Spirit. The Spirit can now dwell within you and the light of Christ’s righteousness can shine out through you into a dark world to illuminate the way to heaven for others.

It is by baptism that we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and our purpose to walk in newness of life. In this way we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour. In this way we become His people, and are received as members into His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin by our changed life that shows we have accepted his forgiveness. Those that are truly repentant will want to follow the instructions in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of its teachings. (Rom. 6:1–6; Col. 2:12, 13; Acts 16:30–33; 22:16; 2:38; Matt. 28:19, 20.)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness . . . .

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