Matthew Journey Chapter 4

In Matthew 4, so much happens. Jesus leaves for over a month alone to face temptation, and then begins his ministry. By the end of the chapter his ministry is in full swing.

Matthew 4

  • It is so strange if you go a chapter back here. Chapter 3 ends with the Father declaring his love for the Son, and the Spirit coming on him as a dove. Chapter 4 begins with the words, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
  • Just because God loves us does not mean he will protect us from all chances of difficulty or harm
  • Andy Stanley really contributed to my understanding of the temptation. He points out how the three temptations mirror the most dangerous temptations that we face. Jesus is first tempted to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. Next he is tempted to presume upon God, which is a fancy way of saying you try to back God into a corner based on your understanding of who He is. Last, Jesus is tempted to take a shortcut to his goals by breaking outside the boundaries God has set for him.
  • After this we find out that John the Baptizer is in prison, and it seems that Jesus steps into John’s role of calling for repentance and announcing the arrival of the Kingdom. This shines another light on Jesus joining of the people by being baptized by John previously.
  • Jesus is considered by the people to be a Rabbi, which was a respected Jewish teacher. A rabbi would have disciples, or followers, who would be with him every waking moment to learn everything possible. Jesus chooses his first two disciples here, (Simon)Peter and Andrew.
  • As Jewish children grew up, they went through stages of learning. At a certain age, the brightest would continue to “level 2” learning, while others continued to learn their families trade. These level 2’s, after studying, would find a rabbi whose teaching (or yoke) they appreciated, and apply to be his disciple. Only the best and brightest were accepted, and the rest earned a living with their families like the others.
  • When Jesus chooses these two disciples, they were fishing with their father. This means they were young and had not moved on to higher learning. They were the not-so-brights . . . the unaccepted.
  • There are many times in my life where I feel like one of the not-s0-brights.
  • Jesus does not just wait for them; he calls them out. He requests that they follow him. This says much about who Jesus accepts to be his followers compared to whom the “religious” leaders would choose.
  • After this it says Jesus began to heal the sick and spread the good news. He didn’t start a building program, he didn’t raise an army, he didn’t start a petition, he didn’t hole up in his house and hate the world. He met the world on their basis, and brought them hope and healing.

Chapter 4 once again shows me a Jesus who meets us where we are. He was tempted in every way that we are tempted. He chooses the least among us. He brings us hope and new life rather than rules and consequences. Jesus is becoming like us to meet with us. He is looking past our outside value to our inner worth. Jesus is setting us up for relationship with him. This is so awesome and so different than any other way of life or “religion.”

Matthew Journey Chapter 3

The book of Matthew moves on . . .

Chapter 3

This chapter tells the story of John’s ministry and Jesus’ baptism. It’s really a fascinating story, all told. Everything that happens here is such a story of something strange breaking in violently to the way of life everyone was used to. There is a lot of stuff here.

  • Right off John talks about the kingdom. He’s in trouble here, because the Romans in charge were used to talk of subversion and riots. Talk of a new kingdom coming near was just asking for it.
  • This mention of the kingdom also makes us rethink our image of a kingdom. Is John talking about Heaven literally crashing into earth, or something more subtle?
  • The description of John makes him out to be quite a freak. It’s possible he had taken the old testament Nazarite Vow (think Samson without super-strength).
  • When John sees the Jewish leaders, he is quick to tell them what he thinks. People knew the system was becoming corrupt; John is not foolish, and he knows they are not there to learn and change.
  • It’s a commonly overlooked theme in the Bible: the harsh words here are for so-called believers, not the common people gathering around.
  • We see here, like in the last chapter, that we can not get haughty thinking God needs us and that we are somehow special as Christians. John tells the Jewish leaders not to assume they are powerful and authoritative because of their heritage. God will use what and who he must, and God will get the job done.
  • When Jesus comes, John does not want to baptize him because he recognizes Jesus deity. As he always does though, Jesus joins with the others when he could be set apart.
  • Jesus is always looking to join us. Baptism is declaring to be part of something. Jesus is on our side, and he proclaimed it here.
  • Baptism occurred before this and was a form of ritual cleansing. John’s was different because you were baptized by someone else instead of doing it yourself  This was because you were joining something, not just cleansing.
  • The image of baptism and passing through the water carries with it the story of the Exodus. When we join with Jesus, we are leaving a life of slavery and entering a journey to something new.
  • God comes down from heaven after this and recognizes Jesus as His son, and declares His pleasure with the whole proceeding.
  • Every time you see the Trinity in the Bible, they are pointing to the others. God comes down and recognizes Jesus. Jesus is always pointing to the Father and he declares that the Holy Spirit will be greater than him. The Holy Spirit directs us to Jesus and to the Father.
  • The Trinity is a picture of perfect relationship. It’s perfect harmony, three and also one. It’s a picture of love where you are always looking to the others and pointing to them rather than to yourself.

To me, Matthew three contrasts two ways of life. One is about myself and keeping the status quo. The other way of life is where I am joining others on a journey of change, and where I am more concerned with those around me with myself.