Matthew 04 - Suffering and temptation
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There is no easy path. God calls and demands immediate obedience to His will. We must follow without complaining.
MATTHEW 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Christianity is not for sissies. It will embrace times of trials and temptations.
There is a war between God and Satan to control the minds of men and women. Every Christian is thus involved in that battle. God fights to establish faith in His Word in our minds. Satan fights to establish the wisdom of human thinking in our minds. So it is the battle of human wisdom versus faith in the written Bible.
The indwelling Spirit of God led the Man Jesus into the wilderness of Judea, away from people. We are too influenced by the Christians around us and thus we never learn to think for ourselves.
We begin our Christian walk by accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour as we focus on Him alone.
Then we follow the pastor and the church beliefs and traditions in order to be accepted by them.
“Group-think” replaces personal conviction.
We then become just another church-goer cut out as if by a cookie-cutter to conform to that church's expectations.
So, because Jesus was an individual Who could think for Himself, He had it tough. All alone in a hostile environment.
Then He was weakened by hunger.
When our flesh is weak, then we learn to rely on the Word of God.
MATTHEW 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Hunger breaks us down physically. Then we cannot rely on our own strength.
Selfish pride was the original sin of Satan in Heaven when he fell.
I JOHN 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
These are the temptations that Adam’s bride fell for.
GENESIS 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,
“Good for food”. Food for thought. Lust of the flesh.
“was pleasant to the eyes”. Lust of the eyes.
“desired to make one wise”. I am cleverer than you. Pride of life.
Jesus faced the same tempter. But He always just responded by quoting Scripture.
MATTHEW 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
We, humans, seek a short-term solution to our immediate problems.
But food to sustain the body is far less important than food to sustain the soul, which is the Word of God.
Basically, Jesus is saying that He will not do anything unscriptural.
He regards the Spirit and the Word as far more important than the flesh.
MATTHEW 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
The lust of the flesh. Hunger. Especially to a Man Who had not eaten for 40 days.
MATTHEW 4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
The lust of the eyes. This would be a spectacular demonstration that people could see and marvel over.
People love the limelight. Love to be the centre of attraction. Love to be noticed and admired.
Popularity is based on all the eyes being on me. Being conspicuous. Everybody saw me doing something that was attention-grabbing.
MATTHEW 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
MATTHEW 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
We must not ask God to help us to be a supernatural show-off. We must not embrace danger in order to have something to brag about.
We must not ask God’s help to achieve our own selfish will.
We must wait for God’s guidance and then do what He tells us to do, not what we want to do in order to impress others.
MATTHEW 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
The pride of life. Glory, wealth, honour, fame, and exalted position.
The glory of wealth and power over people is all that the world can offer us. But it is a hollow mirage. The kingdoms of this world are doomed as Armageddon approaches.
Political power leads to self-enrichment. A brief moment of glory to boost our selfish egos. Then the awful separation from God in the next life. Not worth it. Not for a fleeting moment of pleasure.
MATTHEW 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Worshiping any person, other than Almighty God, is totally wrong.
The antichrist spirit will usurp the position of being the final Pope because the Pope is called Vicarius Christi. In place of Christ.
Anyone who tries to compare himself to Jesus Christ or puts himself or any other man in the place of Jesus is completely wrong.
MATTHEW 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
God alone is God.
Do not even argue about some man being in the place of God.
Just tell that person to go as he or she simply has a corrupting spirit. No man can intrude into the Godhead in any way.
MATTHEW 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Angels operate in the spiritual realm unseen. But they are there to help us. There are far more of them available to help us than what we realize. A believer has this unseen shield of angels as a protective wall.
Jesus did not defeat the Devil by means of His supernatural power.
He did not defeat the Devil by means of clever Greek philosophy or Bible School training.
He simply quoted a relevant Scripture in reply to each question.
That is our great example.
To every question we face in life, we can find a suitable Scripture. What is written in the Bible is the wisest answer we will ever get to the questions that life throws at us.
That is faith. When we stand on what the Bible says in opposition to what the church says or what our friends say.
MATTHEW 4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
John had been a great prophet. He had pointed to Christ.
Now it was time for John to leave the scene.
The problem with people is that when they discover a great prophet, they are so impressed with his ministry that they are likely to elevate the prophet to the Godhead as if the prophet is God.
When the prophet leaves, then the people can focus on Jesus which is what the prophet was trying to tell them to do.
When brother Branham revealed the mysteries of Scripture, then we were supposed to follow the revealed Scriptures, not follow the prophet or his quotes.
The prophet points to the Word of God. He does not come to replace the Word of God.
MATTHEW 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
New Testament has Greek names. Old Testament has Hebrew names.
The tribal areas of Naphtali and Zebulun, which reached the coast of the Sea of Galilee were later included in the territory that was called Galilee.
MATTHEW 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
MATTHEW 4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
The Promised Land was divided into Judah and Israel in the days of Solomon’s son. The Assyrians captured Israel in 721 BC and from then on it was dominated by Gentiles. The Israelites were scattered and never really returned to Israel. Judea was captured by Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC and those Jews were set free by Cyrus the Persian in 536 BC. They returned to Judea to rebuild their Temple. The Temple that was based on the Word of God was the magnet that drew the Jews back to Judea. If Christians backslide then the Word of God in their souls will make them miserable sinners until they repent and return to the Lord.
Christians who do not value the Word of God in their souls, who just treat the Bible superficially, seldom return to the Lord when they backslide. The Word of God in our souls is the magnet that draws us back to Christ.
MATTHEW 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Sin and unbelief is darkness. When Jesus came He was the Light of truth. Light is especially bright in a dark environment.
A shadow is caused by the lack of light. When the light comes, the shadow must flee.
Satan is basically a shadow. He operates in the absence of Light. Quote the Word of God and live by it, then Satan has to leave.
Death is a shadow. It looks bad but to a saved Christian it is not bad. It is simply an open door to a better place, Heaven.
The death of Jesus that bought our salvation changed death from a mournful experience to a blessed hope of a better life.
JOHN 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
Nazareth had a bad reputation. There was much sinfulness there. Yet that is where Jesus had lived for a while.
MATTHEW 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The first step of the Gospel is repentance. This will always be the case. Our experience with Jesus only begins when we make a sincere repentance.
Revelation 14:6 – 11 speaks of three angels or messengers.
These men are responsible for restoring the truth during the last three church ages.
Martin Luther of Germany, John Wesley of England, and William Branham of America.
The first angel is Martin Luther.
REVELATION 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Luther preached justification. Salvation through repentance, not through good works.
This is the everlasting Gospel.
It began with John the Baptist who preached repentance. Repentance continued on in the early church until most of the church lost sight of this in the Dark Ages. Then Luther revived salvation through repentance as he began the Reformation.
MATTHEW 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Jesus called hard workers to Himself. In the natural, they cast a net into the sea to catch fish. In the spiritual, they would preach and cast the Word of God into the restless sea of the multitudes of the people by speaking.
Peter also cast that Gospel net into the sea by writing down God’s thoughts into the Bible. God’s Bible verses still move throughout the world and catch those predestinated souls who are willing to believe the Word.
MATTHEW 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
The secret of being a disciple. Follow Jesus. Do not do your own thing.
MATTHEW 4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
When Peter and Andrew heard the call they answered immediately. They stopped what they were doing and followed. There was no thought of self-gain. They did not ask what the benefits were. They did not first negotiate something that would suit them. Peter was going to die for the Gospel. He was fully committed right from the start. He would serve, whatever the price.
MATTHEW 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
James and John were conscientious and hard-working to maintain the family business. When not actually fishing they did not lazily sit around. They then got busy with the maintenance of their fishing equipment. Repairing the net was most important. Holes in the net would allow fish to escape.
MATTHEW 4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
When Jesus called they immediately responded. They did not enquire about pensions nor medical benefits and annual holidays. They just followed. Whatever they needed, God would supply. They were prepared to look after God’s work and trusted God to look after them. Family commitments were not considered to be more important than preaching the Gospel.
They followed Jesus, not their father.
James would be the first apostle to die for the cause. They were agreeing to a dangerous ministry. But their only concern was to follow Jesus. Whether they lived or died was secondary. Being able to do something for God’s Kingdom was the main enthusiasm of their life. They had an eager desire to serve.
MATTHEW 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Our duty is to put God and the needs of His kingdom first and we can only do that if we just follow Jesus and His Word. We must not look out for our own selfish benefits but rather let God add to us the things that we need.
MATTHEW 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
The ministry of Jesus was a combination of spectacular supernatural manifestations and many hard-hitting truths. The people preferred the supernatural because that was spectacular. But that was mainly to attract their attention so that they would listen to His preaching. This told them what God expected of them if they wanted entry into God’s Kingdom.
MATTHEW 4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
There was no sickness nor demon possession that the power of God was unable to heal.
MATTHEW 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
The Jews measured direction from the Temple in Jerusalem. So “beyond Jordan” meant on the other side of the Jordan River.
Jesus' ministry thus attracted attention from all the Jews in the Promised Land. Only Samaria was left out. They were part Jew and part Gentile.
MATTHEW 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Jesus restricted His ministry to just the Jews, the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
By attracting all the Jews from the Promised Land, Jesus was immediately making an enemy of the Jewish religious leaders who were so puffed up in their self-importance.
In the last week of His life the religious leaders were actually able to turn all the people against Jesus.
Such is the power of church leaders to get their people to deny, contradict, or criticize Scripture.