Week 4, Day 2

READ: Matthew 4

BACKGROUND:
4:1 – This is right after Jesus was baptized. “Led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted (or tested)” indicates that this is appointed by God on purpose. God did the same with the nation of Israel after the exodus (see Deuteronomy 8:1-5).
2 – 40 days  & 40 nights, again, parallels Israel’s desert experience as they were there for 40 years. I cannot imagine how hungry he was!
3 – “If” doesn’t mean that the Devil has any doubt, it basically means “since.”
4 – Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3
6 – The Devil quoting Psalm 91:11-12
7 – Jesus, in response, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16
9 – “I will give you” reminds us that the Devil has some real power and influence in our world here and now.
10 – Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 6:13
15-16 – This is fulfilling the prophecy we just read in Isaiah 9.
17 – The phrase “the kingdom of heaven” is found 33 times in the book of Matthew. Matthew uses it to describe the already & not-yet rule of God. That is, the rule of God in the present time & the ultimate eternal rule that will one day be established.
19 – Note that sharing faith or evangelizing was Jesus chief call to his 1st disciples – they were to become fishers of men.
23 – The 3 verbs here, are the 3 chief methods of Jesus’ earthly ministry (and, by extension I think, ought to define our life and ministry in the church): Teaching. Preaching. Healing. And the central message? The “good news.” The word here is euangelion. It’s where we get the word “evangelism.” The good news is the gospel message of the Messiah, the Christ, come to save the world, forgive our sins, restore our brokenness and make all things new!
24 – So often, Jesus took care of the physical needs of the people around him and used that as a springboard or a catalyst for his preaching and teaching ministry.

THINK: One weekend during my freshmen year of college I was in a rush to get back to my hometown to see my girlfriend who was still in high school. I didn’t have at school, but my aunt lived only a few miles away so I borrowed her car for the weekend. I had a paper due in my 8:00am history class on Friday morning and I planned to leave immediately after that class was over. There was only one catch: my particular brand of study habits in college meant that I didn’t actually start typing the paper until about 1:00am – a mere 7 hours before it was due.* It wasn’t a long paper, but I didn’t get to bed then, until about 5:00 and I woke up at 7:00 to get ready for class, get my paper printed off, and get the car packed. Then, at 9:00, after the class was over, I hopped in the car and began my two and a half hour drive across the glorious heavenscape of Iowa. I was pretty tired though. And about an hour and a half into the drive something happened to me that I’ll never forget. I fell asleep while driving and the car veered off of Interstate-80 into the grass in the middle of the highway. Needless to say, it would probably have been bumpy in a Land Rover, but in a tiny, beat up Mercury Mystique is was super bumpy. I woke up quickly, and I was able to recover and get back onto the interstate just in time to pass the Eastern Iowa State Patrol Headquarters. Thankfully they were all busy eating donuts or something and that was the end of the ordeal. I was so terrified that I stayed wide awake the rest of the way home.

It occurs to me, as I reflect on that incident in light of Matthew 4, that we tend to do the stupidest things when we are at our most vulnerable. It is when we’re tired, hungry, frustrated, annoyed, and most at the end of our rope that we are most susceptible to temptation. This is when Satan tempted Jesus. When he’d been fasting for 40 days. He was weak and exhausted, and Satan tempted him, in that vulnerable moment, with things that seemed like a really quick and easy fix, things that seemed like simple solutions to the issues he was facing. He uses that same trick with us. In our lowest moments he offers us seductive solutions based on our selfishness rather than our faithfulness.

It is important when we are tempted, not only to be conscious of the ways in which the evil forces of this world attempt to fool us, but also to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus was tempted too, but he avoided sinning by quoting Scripture. He responded to each individual temptation with words of God that he had internalized for just such a moment. Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s word is a lamp for our feet and a light for out path. If we spend time reading, studying, and memorizing it then we will be able to do what Jesus did. We’ll be able to resist sin and temptation, even in our most vulnerable moments, because we have truth governing our hearts. Do what Jesus did the next time Satan tempts you – beat him with the Bible!

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