Matthew 4

1 The Spirit led Jesus into temptation. Jesus would prevail here, but we, being weaker, are told to plead not to be lead into temptation (Mat 6:13).

The devil (Satan) is a real being. He is not a myth, an allegory, or a personification of evil. He is the very real director of evil.

It was necessary for Jesus to endure this temptation (testing) experience. Being human, He was tempted in every way we are (Heb 4:15). Being God, He demonstrated that He could resist the devil's temptations (John 16:33).

2 Luke 4:2 indicates that the Satan tempted Jesus for the entire forty days of His fast. The three temptations listed here were likely Satan's final and most tempting temptations, delivered at a time when Jesus was at His weakest to resist.

A forty-day fast is a very long time to go without food. During fasting, a person may lose the feeling of hunger, but this verse indicates that Jesus was aware of His need for food.

3 Satan starts by questioning Jesus' being. We must remember that although Satan was once the highest angel, his knowledge is limited compared to God. Satan obviously knew whom Jesus was reputed to be, but he apparently did not want to believe it. It is quite possible that Satan has similar difficulty understanding the Trinity as we humans do.

Satan demands proof that Jesus is God's Son. Such a challenge was meaningless. While it would have demonstrated miraculous abilities, it would not have led Satan to believe in Him. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, it is apparent that Satan is set against God and will never repent.

4 Satan appeals to Jesus' human aspect. He had a body and was hungry. Jesus rightly uses Scripture to point out that man has a more important and eternal component than his body. The eternal, spiritual component must be completely dependent on God. Jesus quotes Deu 8:3 which would imply that Satan's real ploy was to get Jesus to doubt His Father's provisions, both spiritual and physical.

Satan was not telling Jesus to do something "bad" by eating, but he did ask Him to use God given abilities in His own time for His own gain and satisfaction rather than for God's. In general, you should never do what Satan says, even if it seems perfectly innocent.

5 Since Satan was not afraid to approach God's Temple, we should not be surprised when he tries to infiltrate churches today. As Jesus did, so we need to be prepared to meet the physical, spiritual, and worldly attacks of Satan. Jesus resisted temptation by correctly applying God's word. Since God's words can effectively thwart Satan, we should learn to use it appropriately.
6 Satan wanted Jesus to make a spectacle of Himself. More importantly, Satan wanted Jesus to "force God's hand." This would be similar to someone stepping out in front of a moving vehicle expecting God to save him in a miraculous way. God does protect us, but part of that protection is the common sense He gives us.

Also note that Satan knows Scripture and will use it to trick people into doing what they are not supposed to do. One should study Scripture carefully so he can spot when it is being incorrectly applied. When someone quotes Scripture, it does not mean that they necessarily have God's intentions in mind. We should never accept an argument that used a quote from Scripture to entice someone to do something that is wrong (especially if they use one quote to try to contradict another).

Satan quotes Psa 91:11-12, except that he leaves out the phrase, "...guard you in all your ways." Satan appears to do this to turn a general statement of protection into a specific one that fits this particular situation. While some may find no significance in this misquote and misapplication, it should be clear that we must be very careful when we are applying Scripture to our lives. Satan can apply Scripture, but he does so in a way that contradicts God's intentions. We are called on to handle Scripture accurately to please God and make it effective in our lives and ministry (2 Tim 2:15).

7 One can not back God into a corner. We are in no position to test Him. God is not obligated to perform miracles on request for us or for unbelievers around us. Patiently waiting for God to act or move us is an appropriate demonstration of our faith. Stepping out on our own without God's approval (or, as here, on Satan's prompting) is not. We can not expect God to catch us every time we presumptuously act without His guidance. Jesus quoted Deu 6:16 to show that testing God in the manner that Satan suggested has nothing to do with trusting the protection of God promised in Psa 91.
8 Some have wondered whether Satan really had the ability to transport Jesus here and there as suggested by the text. The wording of the passage gives the impression that the temptations were very real situations. While Satan may have used some kind of "vision" to show Jesus the kingdoms of the world on the mountain, there is not other indication that the other temptations were done this way.
9 Satan was offering to "sell" God His Own property. God has allowed Satan to rule over the world for now, but He will eventually reclaim what is rightfully His. Jesus will one day have sovereignty over all people. His faithful followers will inherit His eternal kingdom while the others will be condemned. Satan was offering Him a "shortcut" that, ironically, would have disqualified Jesus for the very position the Father would give Him.

It is ironic that Satan would use the "glory" of the kingdoms of the world to tempt Jesus. Throughout the Bible, God is much more concerned about peoples' faith and obedience rather than wealth and power. In addition, the governing systems of the Gentile nations and their worship of other gods disgusted God in general. Satan was offering Jesus a way to rule the kingdoms of the world without the pain required to be the Messiah. What made this temptation pointless was Satan's inability to deliver what he promised, and Jesus' inability to deny His own Divine nature.

Satan reveals his true intentions. He desires the worship and admiration that belongs to God alone, and he is willing to say and promise anything to get it.

10 Satan's proposal is so abhorrent that Jesus immediately sends him away. Jesus demonstrated His authority to drive Satan out of His presence and chastised Satan with a quote from Deu 10:20. No end can justify worshiping anything or anyone except God. The long-term reward of worshiping God is greater than any short-term gain that might be imagined worshiping anything else.
11 When we resist Satan, he has no choice but to leave us (James 4:7). After Satan was God, the angels attended Jesus, probably providing food and encouragement. Jesus had resisted Satan's temptations to act on His own, and God's promises, which were tested in the first two temptations listed, were fulfilled as they should have been.
12 Matthew skips most of Jesus' first year of ministry, as does Mark and Luke. This may be because this was where Matthew met Him (Mat 9:9).
13 Luke 4:16-31 tells how the people of Nazareth, the town where He grew up, rejected Him. After this, Capernaum became His headquarters.
14 Everything Jesus did fulfilled Scripture.
15 Isa 9:1-2 is referred to. This area had a large non-Jewish population as was less influenced by Jerusalem because of its distance.
16 Like the dawn, the Son of God would appear quietly, but visibly. The region was immersed in spiritual darkness, but Jesus came to them to enlighten them with the truth of God.
17 Jesus starts by preaching. His message is simple: Change your ways and turn to God for He is about to establish His Kingdom.
18 The Law of Moses allowed the Israelites to eat fish (Lev 11:9). Since Galilee had many fish, it was a staple food for the area. Fishing was a profitable (although sometimes erratic) occupation, but it was not necessarily considered an honorable. The time requirements often prevented the workers from receiving extensive religious education. However, God can use anyone regardless or occupation or education. God wants people who are willing to follow. Peter and Andrew were willing.

Peter and Andrew had probably seen Jesus before He called them since He had been preaching and performing miracles in the region. However, it is unlikely that they were expecting Jesus to ask them to be disciples.

19 Jesus met them where they were and talked to them in a way they would understand. They had spent most of their lives catching fish for people to eat. Now they were going to learn how to persuade people to follow God.
20 They followed Jesus' command without hesitation or questions. They may have recognized Jesus as a great teacher, but to give up their occupations instantly to follow Him took both faith and courage.
21 It is still common for commercial fishers to use nets. Catching fish one at a time with a hook and bait would take too long to be profitable. Nets, however, can sweep up many fish with each pass. Nets frequently needed repairs because of weathering, scraping, and stress. When fishers were finished catching, sorting, and selling their fish, they had to spend time to repair their nets. This is where Jesus found James and John -- helping their father with the family business.
22 Leaving home can be a difficult thing. Parents find it difficult to let go of the children they love, and the child must deal with the anxiety of leaving those who have supported and protected them since they were born. The one who is called by God has to rely on faith when they do not know exactly what the calling will require of them. Parents may fret even more than their chosen children do. Here we find that James and John follow Jesus immediately, leaving their father while he was watching. There is not mention of Zebedee protesting, so he either agreed with Jesus' call, or simply left it in the hands of God. James and John were so eager to follow God's direction that they did not need lengthy good-byes (Luke 9:61). We also need this kind of faith and willingness.
23 Jesus went everywhere and preached in what was the Jewish equivalent of churches. Jesus' message was "good news." God was going to establish His Kingdom. As evidence of this, Jesus cured many people of illnesses.
24 Jesus quickly gained fame as a healer. In those days medicine was poor, expense, and difficult to find. Jesus was willing and able to cure all kinds of problems for free.
25 People who had been cured often stayed for a while to hear what Jesus had to say.