Summary of Matthew 1-3
We have seen the first three chapters of Matthew pointing to Jesus as the messiah, the Christ, the complete fulfillment of the prophesy in the scriptures of the Old Testament. It has been in effect a “Case for Jesus as the Christ” to the Jews. The titles we have seen thus far have been Jesus Christ [also messiah Matthew 1:1, 16, 17,18; 2:4], Son of David [Matthew 1:1, 20], Son of Abraham [Matthew 1:1], the one who shall save His people from their sins [Matthew 1:21], Immanuel [Matthew 1:23], God with us [Matthew 1:23], King of the Jews [Matthew 2:2], Son of God [Matthew 2:15; 3:17]. (most of this paragraph is from Tom Curtright’s notes that we received at teacher’s community 11/28/2006.)
As we read the preparation for Jesus’ ministry in chapter four ask these questions in your mind…Who is Jesus? Is He truly the messiah? What kind of messiah will He be?
[Parrallels to Matthew 4:1-11 can also be found in Luke 4:1-13 and Mark 1:12-13]
I. Arriving in the Desert Matthew 4:1-2
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all place Jesus’ time of preparation directly after his
baptism [Luke has a genealogy between the baptism and this event]. This corresponds to the 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness. This parallels especially in Jesus’ response to Satan’s second temptation.
There are a few particular things of note about this passage:
A. Led by the Spirit: TrinityThe passage says Jesus was, “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness.” In Luke 4:1 it says, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” So the Spirit that was leading him was an internal leading because He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Spirit are one in a similar way that Jesus and the Father are one [John 17:11].
B. TemptationWe know that Satan is the tempter and this isn’t the only time the “tempter” comes [Matthew 16:23, Luke 22:28, Luke 22:42-44]. This isn’t a one time event in the life of Jesus.
When James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one,” so how are we to handle Jesus as fully God and fully man being tempted in the desert by Satan.
John Calvin says it best when he states in his commentary:“Our salvation, therefore, was attacked in the person of Christ, just as the ministers [all of us], whom Christ has authorized to proclaim his redemption, are the objects of Satan’s daily warfare…for the Son of God undoubtedly allowed himself to be tempted, that he may be constantly before our minds, when Satan excites within us any contest of temptations. When he was leading a private life at home, we do not read that he was tempted; but when he was about to discharge the office of Redeemer, he then entered the field in the name of his whole church. But if Christ was tempted as the public representative of all believers, let us learn, that the temptations which befall us are not accidental, or regulated by the will of Satan, without God’s permission; but that the Spirit of God presides over our contests as an exercise of our faith. This will aid us in cherishing the assured hope, that God, who is the supreme judge and disposer of the combat, will not be unmindful of us, but will fortify us against those distresses, which he sees that we are unable to meet (my emphasis) [from Calvin’s commentary pp. 142-143].”
This is why in Philipians 2:12-13 it says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Also, in 2 Peter 1:10-11 it says, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is because the Holy Spirit, “but that the Spirit of God presides over our contests as an exercise of our faith.” Don’t miss the implications of the work of the Holy Spirit in the application of what Christ did in this passage to our present circumstances.
Every commentator I read said that this tempting is not so much a tempting, but more of a testing. Which as Jesus replies in verse 7 no one should put God to the test! This is compared to the context of tempt in Genesis 22:1, and Deuteronomy 13:3. This is more of a "proving" context rather than an implication of a sinful temptation by desires that can ensnare Christ. This passage could also be a fulfillment of Isaiah 28:16, “…therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'Whoever believes will not be in haste.'”
Generally speaking this tempting/testing is a sign of how God works in our lives. As William Barclay states:“…so a man has to be tested before God can use him for His purposes. What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin…Temptation is not the penalty of being a man, temptation is the glory of being a man. It is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use [Barclay’s commentary pp. 56].”
Also, in 1 Timothy 3:10 we see that deacons must first be tested before the serve that role in the church. In Revelation 2:10 we see the outcome of faithfulness in testing, by trial, achieving the crown of life. This is not because of anything we’ve done but it is all somehow wrapped up in the righteousness of Christ proven in this testing in the desert. We know that salvation is not through works; rather, by the free gift of grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8-9].
There is a lot more that could be said but we will move onward. This tempting of Christ is very important to reflect on because it is as if through this narrative Jesus is living what Hebrews 2:17-18; and 4:15 describe.
C. SolitudeBefore being used in His ministry Jesus went to be alone. We see this later too in the midst of His ministry [Matthew 14:18; Luke 9:18, 36; Mark 6:47]. Barclay has a great quote on this:“There are certain things which a man has got to work out alone. There are times when no one else’s advice is any good to him. There are certain times when a man has got to stop acting and start thinking. It may be that we make many a mistake because we do not give ourselves a chance to be alone with God [Barclay’s commentary pp. 57].”
When was the last time you were alone with God…quiet. Not disturbed. I’m not saying this is something you should do all the time like a monk, but it looks like the Scriptures are commending this practice as a way that Jesus lived in preparation and in the midst of His ministry.
D. WildernessWe know that the wilderness was a barren place, Barclay says the terrain is:“Between Jerusalem, which stands on the central plateau, which is the backbone of Palestine, and the Dead Sea there stretches the wilderness. The Old Testament calls it Jeshimmon, which means The Devastation, and it was a fitting name. It stretches over an area of thirty-five by fifteen miles. Sir George Adam Smith who traveled over it describes it. It is an area of yellow sand, of crumbling limestone, and of scattered shingle. It is an area of contorted strata, where the ridges run in all directions as if they were warped and twisted. The hills are like dust heaps; the limestone is blistered and peeling; rocks are bare and jagged; often the very ground sounds hollow when the footfall or the horse’s hoof falls upon it. It glows and shimmers with heat like some vast furnace. It runs right out to the Dead Sea, and then there comes a drop of twelve hundred feet, a drop of limestone, flint, and marl, through crags and corries and precipices down to the Dead Sea [Barclay’s commentary pp. 56].”
Also, in Mark’s account it says there were “wild animals.” This was no safe place to be. So after forty days of just being exposed in this land would have been extremely difficult. Add to that that Jesus was fasting and you can imagine how completely famished He was being that Jesus was also fully man. It is at this time that Satan comes to tempt Jesus when he is completely physically worn out. Add to it Jesus’ loneliness [assumption…He might not have been lonely because He may have been fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit] and He would have been in a more vulnerable state than most of us could imagine.
II. The First Test: Stones to Bread Matthew 4:3-4
The first temptation was to one commentary said, “He must be ready to accept
privation [humbling/starvation] in fulfilling his God-given task without ‘pulling rank’ [IVP pp. 910].” Calvin states regarding fasting [in case people ask if this is a mandate us to fast like Jesus in this circumstance here's a good quote from Calvin]:
“Those who fast daily, during all the forty days, pretend that they are imitators of Christ. But how? They stuff their belly so completely at dinner, that, when the hour of supper arrives, they have no difficulty in abstaining from food. What resemblance do they bear to the Son of God? The ancients practiced greater moderation: but even they had nothing that approached to Christ’s fasting, any more, in fact, than the abstinence of men approaches to the condition of angels, who do not eat at all…To believe that such fasting is a meritorious work, and that it is a part of godliness and of the worship of God, is a very base superstition [Calvin’s commentary 141-142].”
A. Attack on Jesus' FaithThe first temptation was an attack on Jesus’ faith. As Calvin states, “When you see that you are forsaken by God, you are driven by necessity to attend to yourself. Provide then for yourself the food, with which God does not supply you [pp. 144].”
It is as if Satan is dangling the same temptation in front of Jesus that Israel had before their eyes in the desert. And as the first son of God [Israel] failed so this Son of God [Jesus] will succeed. This is clearly evidenced by Jesus’ quotation of Deuteronomy 8:2-3:"And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
B. Scripture Used as a ShieldThe Scriptures here are also used as a shield against Satan which is an excellent example of the use of Scripture as Paul states in Ephesians 6:16-17. Conversely the Scriptures can be used as a sword [Hebrews 4:12], but in how Jesus Responds with Scripture it is more like a shield.
III. The Second Test: Throw Yourself Down Matthew 4:5-7
This temptation is different than the first in a few ways. This purpose of this
temptation was to show Jesus’, “trust [in] his Father’s care without the need to test it by forcing God’s hand [IVP pp. 910].” Satan clearly trying to provoke mistrust in Jesus of God the Father.
Here’s a great quote from D. A. Carson regarding this:
“Jesus was tempted by Satan to test God; but Jesus recognized Satan’s testing as a sort of manipulative bribery expressly forbidden in the Scriptures. For both Israel and Jesus, demanding miraculous proof of God’s care was wrong; the appropriate attitude is trust and obedience [Carson’s commentary pp. 114]”
A. Misuse of ScriptureThe purpose is no surprise, as we have seen Satan work this temptation in the nation of Israel many times, but the means by which He accomplishes this purpose is a new one…namely by using scripture, incorrectly. Specifically Psalm 91:11-12:“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
Calvin correctly summarizes Satan’s statement like this, “If you expose yourself to death, contrary to the will of God, angels will protect your life [Calvin’s commentary pp. 148].” So he was clearly asking Jesus to test God.
Further Calvin warns us regarding those who will incorrectly apply the Scriptures:“The same kind of stratagem he [satan] continues daily to employ; and the Son of God, who is the universal model of all the godly, chose to undergo this contest in his own person, that all may be industriously on their guard against being led, by a false application of Scripture, into the snares of Satan. And undoubtedly the Lord grants such a permission to our adversary, that we may not remain in indolent ease, but may be more careful to keep watch. Nor ought we to imitate the madness of those who throw away Scripture, as if it admitted of every kind of interpretation, because the devil misapplies it. For the same reason, we ought to abstain from food, to avoid the risk of being poisoned [Calvin’s commentary pp. 147].”
B. Don't Test GodJesus replies with a passage from Deuteronomy 6:16, “"You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” This is where the people grumbled against God and Moses struck the rock at Horeb and water came out of it [Exodus 17:6].
The context of Deuteronomy 6:16 is interesting, because it isn’t as if the nation was questioning what would happen in the future with God [although I’m sure they did], but they were complaining about the past faithfulness of God. God blessed them over and over and the only thing they did was complain about God’s past faithfulness saying, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children… [Exodus 17:3; Numbers 11:20; 20:4-5; 21:5; Deuteronomy 1:27]” So the people weren’t in a bind when they were complaining to God about a decision that they had to make that had no affirmative resolution. They were actually complaining about the grace, loving-kindness, and faithfulness of God in the past.
When Matthew writes this quote of Jesus bells would have been ringing all over the place in the ears and minds of the listeners to the book of Matthew [the Jews]. That phrase, “you should not put God to the test,” would have been very familiar and they would have logically gone straight to the context of Israel basically spitting in the face of God’s loving grace in liberating them from the Egyptians.
In essence Jesus is responding to Satan, “God has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful in the future…how dare you misquote scripture to make me misuse the authority that belongs to Me.”
IV. The Third Test: Bow Down and Worship Me and I Will Give You the Kingdoms Matthew 4:8-11
Not in the lesson, but important: Matthew’s 3rd temptation is Luke’s 2nd and vice versa…Calvin says of this…
“It was not the intention of the Evangelists to arrange the history in such a manner, as to preserve on all occasions, the exact order of time, but to draw up an abridged narrative of the events, so as to present, as in a mirror or picture, those things which are most necessary to be known concerning Christ. Let it suffice for us to know that Christ was tempted in three ways. The question, which of these contests was the second, and which was the third, need not give us much trouble or uneasiness [Calvin’s commentary pp. 146]."
A. All AuthorityThis third temptation is almost an insult to Christ. Jesus has been given the
nations as an inheritance [Psalm 2:7, 8 partially fulfilled in Matthew 3:17 where God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”]. Later, in the Great Commission we see this authority when Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Matthew 28:18].” The “well pleased” portion is from Isaiah 42:21 and further the Father was “pleased to bruise the Son” [Isaiah 53:10].
Jesus knows that all authority has been given to Him. He knows that He must go to the cross to atone for the sins of His people. To worship Satan would be ridiculous and undermine His own authority, and it would be a short-cut to authority without the cross.
B. Out of my way Satan!Jesus’ response is one that we will see again, “Away from me Satan [Matthew 4:10; Matthew 16:23]!” When Jesus responds this way to Peter it is in almost the same context. Jesus foretells of what is about to happen [death, burial, resurrection] and Peter discourages Him from the thought of it as if to tempt Him of the easy way…not to go to the cross. Christ knew His authority and He knew that only He could be the perfect spotless lamb to wash away the sins of the world. God is jealous for His glory, and the obstruction of His glory provokes His stern jealousy. He recognizes anything that would come in the way of His work on the cross as Satan.
Application and Closing
A. Christianity...easy?“The easy way or the cowboy way [Riders in the Sky]”… “The easy way or the Christian way"
B. ShortcutsShortcuts to shallow accomplishment…or hard work for reaping of true spiritual fruit.
C. The CrossLook to Christ’s work on the Cross for the forgiveness of your sins. The Jews had to offer sacrifices perpetually forever to continue to atone for sins, but they knew that the sacrifices didn’t atone for sin because they had to keep making them. They were shadows of what was to come in Christ [Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1] also no human could pay the price for his another’s soul [Psalm 49:7-8]. Look to Jesus Christ!
D. Temptation through our giftsWe are often times tempted through our gifts.
“We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts. The person who is gifted with charm will be tempted with charm “to get away with anything.” The person who is gifted with the power of words will be tempted to use his command of words to produce glib excuses to justify his own conduct. The person with a vivid and sensitive imagination will undergo agonies of temptation that a more stolid person will never experience. The person with great gifts of mind will be tempted to use these gifts for himself and not for others, to become the master and not the servant of men. It is the grim fact of temptation that it is just where we are strongest that we must be fore ever on the watch [Barclay’s commentary pp. 59].”
E. Obedience to who in trials??In trials will you obey God or will you obey Satan? Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith…how would you respond in this circumstance?“The Communists convened a congress of all Christian bodies in our Parliament building. There were four thousand priests, pastors, and ministers of all denominations – and these men of God chose Joseph Stalin as honorary president of this congress. At the same time he was president of the World Movement of the Godless and a mass murderer of Christians. One after another, bishops and pastors arose and declared that communism and Christianity are fundamentally the same and could coexist. One minister after another said words of praise toward communism and assured the new government of the loyalty of the Church.
My wife and I were present at this congress. Sabina told me, “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ! They are spitting in His face.” I said to her, “If I do so, you lose your husband.” She replied, “I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.”
Then I arose and spoke to this congress, praising not the murders of Christians, but Jesus Christ, stating that our loyalty is due first to Him [Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ pp. 15-16].”
F. Examine/Test Yourselves to see if you're in the faith!2 Corinthians 13:5-7 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong--not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed.”