The Temptation of Christ

(Matthew Chapter 4)

This chapter is interesting for we see in it the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and this is interesting because we also see that before he began he was attacked by Satan and tempted in the wilderness. Also note that the devil mocked Jesus for he began his first two temptations with the words, “If you are the Son of God…” The devil knew full well that Jesus was the Son of God and that there was no “if” about it. But using such mockery was an attempt to goad Jesus into doing the devil’s will rather than the will of God. We see this same thing as Christians. People will say, “…and you call yourself a Christian…” when they mock or stand opposed to us. As the devil sought proof’s from Jesus with his mockery so too the devils servants do the same thing to the servants of the Lord. Don’t fall into that trap for that is what it is. Jesus was tempted and attacked at other times too, but this first occasion is interesting as it was to test his faith in a number of key areas.

First (vs. 3-4) the devil tempts him with human and physical needs. After forty days without food Jesus would be weak for the scripture says he was hungry, and the devil knew this. So he offered bread, food for the physical body, in an attempt to lure Jesus astray. What we can take from this is that we too will be tempted and lured by the physical things we may need or want. Also the devil does not play fair for he tempted Jesus at his weakest moment and with the very thing that would solve his immediate need, but that would also have put Jesus into the power of the devil. He will do the same to us and as Jesus fought back with scripture, we too need to use the power of the word to fight back. This then suggests how important it is to learn and understand the word, otherwise you will be unable to fight off the temptations of the devil.
Second (vs. 5-7) the devil tempts Jesus with fanaticism to call on the miraculous power of God. Note here that the devil actually uses scripture to attack Jesus. There are some who do take such fanatical stands and essentially put God to the test, and this is not what we are called to do. There is security and protection in the Lord, but we should not put Him to the test. We are not greater than God and so we have no right to try him or to tempt him through fanatical religious over-zealousness. In this day there are some who seek miracles and the miraculous power of God, but in reality those things are not the most important things. Ultimately miracles will cease to occur for they will not be necessary. Instead we are to seek God’s kingdom and learn to live in His love for love lasts forever. Common sense apart from what the scripture teaches would surely show that what lasts into eternity is much more important and valuable than something that is only temporary. This is a message repeated in a number of places in the Bible and will be dealt with further in those places.
Finally we see the devil tempt Jesus with power, wealth and riches. What we see from this is that the devil is in control of the kingdoms of this world and in the Luke version of this scripture (Luke 4:5-6) we see the devil state that the kingdoms of this earth have been delivered to the devil and he gives them to whomever he wants. To that end then as Christians we should learn not to desire the things of this world for they are not of God. Riches, money, wealth and power in this world are not the things of God but are temporary and exist only for this lifetime. But to attain the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ is eternal and is not of this world but from God. That is where our focus and priority should be.
In all of these temptations the Lord defeats the devil by scripture. We too need a knowledge of the scripture to fight Satan and his attacks. And after the devil was sent packing we see that angels came and ministered to his needs. In the same way when we go through temptation the Lord will strengthen, comfort and establish us in due course.
When Jesus began preaching in Galilee we see that like John the Baptist, he began by preaching for the people to repent. We will see later in Acts that the disciples too began their ministries in this same way and a short review of Hebrews 6:1-2 will show that repentance is one of the six key foundation teachings of the New Covenant. Now whilst I have said above that miracles are not the most important thing, they do have their place. For we see that as Jesus preached the word (vs.23-25) that he did heal the sick and perform many fantastic works. But we see that the key to miracles was explained in Mark 16:17, “…these signs will accompany those who believe.” and in Mark 16:20, “…they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” So miracles have a place as a confirmation of the message. But this is not something that can be taken but must be given by the Lord. When the message is right he will provide the signs and confirm it where necessary.

The Baptism of Jesus and John the Baptist’s Ministry

(Matthew Chapter 3)


Here we see the beginning of John the Baptists ministry. John came to do two things. He came to prepare the way for the Lord and to bear witness to Jesus as being the Christ. Was it necessary for him to do this? Probably not, but under the law a matter was considered true if two or more people witnessed it. And besides, it was prophesied that John would appear and do this work. He was the prophet that came in the spirit of Elijah as spoken of elsewhere.


Now we see John preach baptism as a sign for the repentance of sins, and this was very important. He introduced this process that was later carried forward into the New Covenant. John also made the point that it is not enough just to be baptised for repentance but you needed to be live a repentant life. He told the Jews that they could not simply rely on their genealogy to save them; they needed to “…bear fruit that befits repentance.” It is the same today. You cannot go through the motions and expect salvation; you need to live in accordance with the word.


Now the New Covenant did not exist in John’s time because it was not ratified and could not come into existence until after Jesus had died. The Old Covenant required the sacrifice of goats and bulls and the blood of these animals sufficed to do two things. Firstly they brought the covenant into existence & secondly they were the offering for sin. Jesus death was similar in that His blood brought the New Covenant into effect, but it was not an offering for sin but took away mans sin. To enter the New Covenant then we need to enter into Jesus’ death, which is done through baptism.


Now John also recognised Jesus was mightier than himself for he said when Jesus came for baptism that he (John) needed to be baptised by Christ. But we see in Jesus’ answer a very interesting response. Jesus said he needed to be baptised by John, “…for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Baptism is necessary to meet the requirements to fulfil all righteousness and without baptism this cannot be achieved. In Jesus’ case he did not need to be baptised, as John knew, but by being baptised Jesus provided an example for us all to follow. No person can say they do not need to be baptised because Jesus was not baptised. That is how important baptism is in the new covenant. Indeed baptism is the mechanism by which we enter the New Covenant through Christ Jesus. He said elsewhere that, “I am the door” and we need to enter by the door. We do that through being baptised into his death.


We also see that God the Father was pleased with Jesus and this process because God the Father gave his seal of approval saying from heaven, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”

Similarities between Jesus and Moses Births

 

(Matthew Chapter 2)


The whole book of Matthew focuses quite heavily on the fulfillment of prophecy. This is very clear in this second chapter. We see that in all aspects of his life Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies pertaining to him beginning with his birth in Bethlehem.

Verse 11 is interesting in that it shows the wise men “go into the house” to worship. This blows apart the traditional Christmas nativity scenes where the wise men bring their gifts while Jesus is in the manger. It is made even clearer that some time had passed, and thus Joseph and Mary had moved from the manger to a house, when we see that Herod’s edict to kill all male children under the age of two years old, based upon the time the wise men had given him.

But in spite of Herod’s evil plans, God protected the young Jesus by warning his parents to get out of that place and go to Egypt…and again this fulfilled scripture, as did their return to Nazareth so that Jesus could be “called a Nazarene” and “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

There is another interesting aspect to this sequence of events as well. We saw that when Moses was alive he said that the Lord would raise up another prophet like him, from amongst their brethren (Deut 18:15-16, Acts 3:22-23). What we see is that there are many parallels between the lives of Moses & Jesus. For example, the rulers at the times of both their childhoods sought to kill all male children under the age of two. They were also both brought up out of Egypt. Moses was given the Old Covenant law to teach Israel and Jesus brought the New Covenant into effect to save the spiritual Israel. There are many other interesting similarities in their lives and again this strengthens the fulfillment of scripture and proof that Jesus is the Christ.

The Genealogy of Jesus

(Matthew Chapter 1)


It seemed like a good idea to capture the things I am learning as I read the Bible, and that is the purpose of this blog.


Anyone who has read the New Testament knows that the first chapter of Matthew is a lot of long and sometimes difficult to pronounce names. But it is an important piece of scripture as it shows the genealogy of Jesus. The Old Testament said that one of the descendants of Abraham, Judah and David the King would come as the Messiah. Matthew 1:1-16 shows that lineage and is evidence of who Christ is from a prphetic perspective.


Verses 18-19 show some interesting things too. It occurred to me that after the initial mentioning of Joseph, he hardly gets mentioned again in the Bible. And yet it stands to reason that he was around for he was a carpenter & Jesus too must have learned that trade from his supposed father. Also we see that Joseph was a good and just man for the scripture says that he was unwilling to put Mary to shame and was going to divorce her quietly. When you consider that he had discovered she was pregnant the first thought any rational person would make is that she had been unfaithful. Yet in spite of that Joseph was prepared to keep a lid on the matter and not make a big fuss, not for his own sake, but for hers. This is a sign of a just and reasonable man.


Of course what we see then is angel of the Lord coming to Joseph to explain what the situation is and that he should continue to take Mary as his wife.


Now what is also interesting in what the angel said to Joseph is the reason why Jesus was coming to the world. In verse 21 we see that Jesus was being born, “…to save his people from their sins.” This is the primary reason why Jesus came and we see this same purpose repeated in many places throughout the gospels. The very reason that Jesus was born, lived and died was to save us from our sins. This is a significant part of Jesus’ ministry and one that will unfold in future posts.