This study is a bit of a spooky one; so let’s approach this with prayer. The topic is Jesus in the desert being tempted by the devil. We are going to look at this as a study of the text but I also want to take this opportunity to discuss how we handle the devil in our own personal lives.
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.Matthew 4:1 KJV
I am going to stop it here, what a strange notion, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness for the express purpose of being tempted by the devil. Once gain providing a lesson in how to deal with such a thing. Devil here is (diabolou) διαβολου very similar to the Hebrew Satan. It means the accuser or slanderous or falsely. So the devil is someone who slanders and accuses and provides false testament. Think of this as the garden of Eden, actually, it very well may be the garden that Jesus returned to, now barren and destroyed after the flood.
See there is a thing in the Bible that makes a point of calling Jesus the last Adam. That is a study you can do on your own and I will go into it later but for now just knowing that is a thing is enough.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.Matthew 4:2 KJV
I have an interesting relationship with fasting. Fasting in itself is a good thing. The first three days you are desperately hungry but on the fourth your hunger tends to go away. Now fasting for 40 days is one of the longest fasts I have heard of. I would imagine if you were not obese that would be about the time frame when you are entering a desperate need to eat. Like medically in need of food. Muscles would cramp, you would feel sick, and you may even have painful head aches as well.
Now we have seen an image given of Jesus as Israel. So Jesus went into Egypt, left Egypt, and now is in the wilderness for 40 days much like the 40 years the Hebrew people wandered the desert.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.Matthew 4:3 KJV
Once again we have another name for the Satan here, he is called the tempter, the peirazōn (πειράζων); to make proof of, to attempt, to test, to tempt. Now this is not a question, he is making a statement. So he is not questioning if Jesus is the Son of God, he is saying something like “since you are”. This is how Jesus responds to the devils temptations.
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.Matthew 4:4 KJV
He quotes scripture at the devil. This is why you need to know your scripture. So where is this quote from. We can turn to Deuteronomy for this.
3 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, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.Deuteronomy 8:3 KJV
So what would have been the big deal about Jesus eating something. I am not entirely sure but I think it has to do with completing the imagery of Israel wandering the desert. God speaks in puns and goes to great lengths to make those interlocking ideas throughout history impossible to deny his hand in. If Jesus ate it would have ruined an image to teach us.
This is also teaching us that scripture and the word of God should be consumed as often or perhaps more than we hunger for food. If God’s words are food for the soul that would be the natural conclusion.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,Matthew 4:5 KJV
Now, I am not going to make a big thing of this right now. However, I want you to be sensitive to the idea that being like Satan, and the angels, and God, and even Jesus post death, can move in ways we cannot. We live in a three dimensional world. So we can go up and down, left and right, to and fro, however, they can do other movements. So this is some kind of supernatural movement. In an instant the devil took Jesus onto the pinnacle of the temple. This is not teleportation, this would be moving from one temporal place to another. Its confusing but we are recently discovering the possible methods through Quantum Mechanics.
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 4:6 KJV
Satan like in the garden of Eden to Eve is misquoting scripture. For this we turn to psalms.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.Psalm 91:11-12 KJV
So we can see that a weapon of Satan is scripture but misquoting it as a weapon against you. If you notice Jesus began by quoting scripture as his retort. Satan said, oh, you know scripture, well perhaps I can convince you with scripture. Satan will feel for an opening like an expert boxer. As soon as he finds that weakness he is going to strike at it. The only defense for such a thing is to not take anyone’s word for anything and seek the truth before you believe it. Either that or educate yourself in all things so no one can ever give a misapplication of something to you. But we both know that is impossible.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.Matthew 4:7 KJV
So where is Jesus’s response from.
16 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.Deuteronomy 6:16 KJV
So once again you see Jesus using the word of God to disarm Satan. There is nothing he can do to win that argument as long as Jesus quotes scripture as Satan knows better than to try at that angle. Christ knows better.
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;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.Matthew 4:8-9 KJV
Pause, pause, right here, lets stop. What we just read is shocking! So Satan is tempting Jesus by showing him all the kingdoms of the world, the their glory, and then offered them if only he would worship Satan. How is that a temptation. Sounds really weak to me. After all God rules everything, right, right?
While yes God does rule everything, Satan is the god (little g) of this world. Which includes the nations within it. So who is controlling the earth’s governments? Oh, Satan. It is expressed right here. So why are we confused when our rulers do corrupt things, why does it shock us when they constantly collapse under their own desires? It is because the seat of the world is Satan’s, he commands. This is why this would be a temptation for Jesus. Jesus became man so he would experience temptation just like anyone else. He also knows of the wars and tragedies of the future. Perhaps much of it would have been averted but for what? So Satan can rule the world? How much worse would an unbridled Satan emperor be?
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.Matthew 4:10 KJV
Jesus rejects him for God, hardening himself to face Satan, to ensure his eternal destruction and freedom from sin. So what is Jesus quoting, again we can look to Deuteronomy.
13 Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.Deuteronomy 6:13 KJV
Again we see that through faith and following scripture Satan has no power. It is only when we fall to his ploys that we become slave to him. Satan is like a drug dealer. He gives you just a taste for free, then you are addicted and cannot stop. Once you are his slave he can collect what is his and he will place people in your life that will keep you enslaved so you never see freedom from your sins.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.Matthew 4:11 KJV
Satan leaves after this. Which shows that Satan can only be in one place at one time. He is not like God who can be in all places at all times. Most likely frustrated and enraged by his failure. Someone as proud as Satan does not take defeat gently. After which angels came and ministered to Jesus. Jesus receiving ministry. Mister here is diēkonoun (διηκόνουν), which can mean minister but it also means to serve. So these angels were serving Jesus. Is this what happens in our own lives when we defeat temptation? Are we just not listening? What exactly did they say or do? I believe they informed Jesus of the goings on and brought him a meal after he competed the forty days.
Now roughly a year passes in Matthews narrative before he continues onto verse 12. The importance of this time passing was not important to Matthew but fun fact to know. This was the times at which Jesus is ministering in Judea.
12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:Matthew 4:12-13 KJV
Capernaum is by the sea of Galilee in the northeast.
14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
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.Matthew 4:14-16 KJV
Matthew is quoting Isaiah Chapter 9.
9 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.Isaiah 9:1-2 KJV
So what is the point of mentioning this? Well, it shows that God foretold Jesus’s exact movements. Not only that but there are two tribes mentioned that have prophecies of their own; Zebulun and Naphtali.
13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.Genesis 49:13 KJV
21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.Genesis 49:21 KJV
It is true as well, Zebulun is a haven of ships still, and out of Naphtali Jesus came.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.Matthew 4:17 KJV
Now we see what Jesus’s ministry can be summarized as. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
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.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.Matthew 4:18 KJV
I have to imagine that there is WAY more to the conversation than that. Are you really catching this image. Some guy walks up to you while you are working and says to you. Quit your job, follow me, here is a clever pun. And you are like OK sure that sounds great. This is either something divine or there is a lot more that is said and discussed and Jesus convinced them. Not quiet sure but seeing as how Thomas is not there yet, maybe they did just listen.
However, while colorful and amusing to imagine it this way, this is not the first time Jesus met these fellows John Chapter 1 tells of these men already being interested in Jesus as Messiah. They met him as well. So they were already familiar that Jesus is Christ.
Also this John is not John the baptist and this James is the brother of John. There are a few people named John and James, I will try to make it clear who is who.
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.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
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.Matthew 4:21-22 KJV
So we can see that Jesus has gathered up his disciples and now really begins working his ministry. Not only teaching them in his ways but using them as witnesses. All of them willingly without much convincing followed Christ believing him to be just that. As to what form that would take it is unclear to them.
We also get a strange title here; “The Gospel of the Kingdom”. What is the “Gospel of the Kingdom”? Well, let’s break it down into the Greek to see what it is saying. The word for Gospel here is euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον) which literally means Good News. Kingdom here is basileias (βασιλείας) which means Kingdom, Sovereignty, Royal Power. So Jesus is preaching the “Good news of the royal power”. In the next few chapters we will be able to look at the contents of this “Good News” is.
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.Matthew 4:24 KJV
Today this portion of the world is called the Golan heights. You hear about this region a lot in the news these days. I think it is important to break these down. First let’s break down the illnesses by types. First is physical pathalogical illness, second is torments which are mental illnesses, poseessions which are spiritual illnesses brought on by demonic forces, more about that in a few. Lunatic has duel meanings, selēniazomenous (σεληνιαζομένους) in a more modern context is people who act odd from the moon. However, during this time it was epileptic seizures, they thought it had to do with the moon. Most likely because it induced a bright light in the dark which triggered some forms of episode. Then we have palsy which is parallelization, can’t move your limb(s).
So people brought every kind of illness to Jesus and he was healing them of their illnesses, also asking for donations of course cause tithing, I am kidding, he healed people for free, unlike a lot of the wolves we celebrate as preachers.
So onto the topic of demons. I want to mention this real quick. Demons are real, they are spiritual entities who we will encounter many times going ahead. I know to our modern sensibilities we do not worry about ghosts and spooks but make no mistake demons are actual things and they are actually trying to possess people.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.Matthew 4:25 KJV
Clearly everyone just followed Jesus around because of parlor tricks. All these healings were debunked by out proud and genius scientist. I mean the local paraplegic agreed to pretend he was messed up for years before. Or that guy who suffered from crippling depression is suddenly cured of it, that is all inside tricks. Oh and those sick people, it was just a cough. Right?
This is what a lot of people want you to believe. I don’t know how many times people tell me Jesus really was just a man and never did any real miracles, the people are just dumb. Oh, ok Sherlock. The people are dumb. Righto, I am going to go with common sense, a rare commodity might I add, and think that among all those people there are a few smart ones.
Now go and have a wonderful day, Christ is King and we have been saved of our sins. Rejoice, the world is going to be ok. Don’t let the news or current events tug at you. Just keep doing good for goodness sake.