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 . . . .

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Journey Through the Book of Matthew

Matthew 3:13-15

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him saying, “I need to be baptized by You and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

John was acquainted with the events that had marked the birth of Jesus. He had heard of the visit to Jerusalem in His boyhood, and of what had passed in the school of the rabbis. (see Luke 2:41-49) He knew of Jesus sinless life, and believed Him to be the Messiah. But John had no positive assurance yet he accepted it by faith. The fact that Jesus had for so many years remained in obscurity, giving no special evidence of His mission, gave occasion for doubt as to whether He could be the Promised One. John the Baptist, however, waited in faith, believing that in God’s own time all would be made plain. It had been revealed to him that the Messiah would seek baptism at his hands, and that a sign of His divine character should then be given. Thus he would be enabled to present Him to the people.

Jesus had sat at the feet of his mother, listening intently as she taught Him of the prophecies from the scriptures. Then with the news about John baptizing at the Jordan River, Jesus realized it was time to close his father’s carpenter shop, leave his mother and his family and travel the 65 or so miles to hear John preach. It was time He should be about His Father’s business that He had so boldly spoken of 18 years before. (see Luke 2:49)

Among the multitudes that had gathered about him at the Jordan, John had heard dark tales of crime, and had met souls bent low from the burden of sin. Now, when Jesus came to be baptized, John recognized within Him a purity of character that he had never before perceived in any man. The very atmosphere of His presence was holy and awe inspiring. Never had John come in contact with another person from whom there breathed an influence so divine.

Because of this, John withdrew from granting the request of Jesus. How could he, John, a sinner, baptize Him who was sinless? Why should He who needed no repentance come to him requesting baptism? Why should Jesus submit to a rite that was a confession of guilt, so that guilt could be washed away when He was guiltless?

The preaching of John was so powerful that many believed him to be the messiah, and now John before all the people proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah. For some, this would have been a shock. For others they would have refused to believe.

Now as this Man came before John he proclaims for all to hear: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” John 1:29-31)

Jesus came into this world to be our example and to become one like us in every way. It was in this way that Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified Himself with sinners, taking the steps that we are to take, and doing the work that we must do.

Just as His life of suffering and patient endurance after His baptism was also an example to us so was his birth and baptism be an example to us.

Baptism is the washing away of our old self of sin and putting on the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness. We die to self and are raised up in Christ as a new person.

All this was in harmony with what had been revealed to John regarding the Messiah.

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