Wow, I think chapter 4 is one of my favorite chapters in Matthew.
Not only does it began right after Jesus was baptized and publicly confirmed in His sonship, but it starts in a pretty dramatic way.
Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, is led into the wilderness to fast and pray. He does so for 40 days and 40 nights.
40 seems to be a pretty reoccurring number in the Bible. It reminds me of Moses, Elijah and the 40 years of testing the Israelites went through, also in the wilderness. My study bible referenced Dt 8:2 here, so I looked it up and it spoke how Moses recalled that the Lord led the Israelites in the wilderness 40 years to “humble and test in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
So, Jesus was divinely led into the wilderness to be tested. And, Jesus was tested and tempted by satan. After 40 days and 40 nights, satan said to Jesus, “If you are the son of God…..”
It is important to know that here, satan was not in doubt of Jesus’ sonship. Rather he was using this phrase as a way to tempt Jesus. He wanted to deceive Jesus into using his own miraculous powers for his own means….and ends. Satan, which means accuser and slanderer, is the arch enemy of God…and of all who love and follow God.
You know, I used to think that I was the voice telling myself, “Your no good. You shouldn’t be up here singing….Why are you here, your just a fake? Your a sinner without any bit of musical talent.”
I always recognized that voice to be teasing, but incredibly mean and harsh. And then one day, I told a friend that sometimes, those thoughts come to me…and she let me in on something ( as a new believer ) that I didn’t know. The devil is sneaky…and he surfaces in insecurities, using them to deceive us, lie to us, and try and separate us from knowing God. He will do this in whatever underhanded way he can. BUT, we, as Christians, have been granted the authority “to overcome all the power of the enemy.”
“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. “ Luke 10:19
So here, when reading this chapter, I am reminded that Jesus,weak and hungry, relied not on even His own miraculous power, but on His Father’s provision. Ultimately , Jesus showed himself to be true and faithful. So important! …it demonstrated that Jesus was in fact, qualified, to not only be our savior, but to also be our merciful high priest. And Jesus, in his love for us, has granted us the same authority over the accuser and deceiver. He has not left us helpless- He has equipped us to fight and overcome!
After this, it notes that Jesus heard of John’s imprisonment. What really struck me here is the phrase, “From that time on…” FROM that time on, Jesus picked up John the Baptist’s message and began to preach the SAME one. This was definitely a HUGE turning point, for Jesus,and He began to gain influence rather quickly. He began to disciple and speak to large crowds, “teaching, proclaiming, and healing.” In calling His disciples, Jesus said, “Come and follow me.......And I will send you out to fish for people.”
Evangelism was the heart of Jesus’ ministry call to his disciples. As it should be with us.
Maybe in our current world, we can compare that to church planting. There are seasons, HUGE seasons of growth, and seasons of walking "through the wilderness." In our church, we have a intentional goal of not just accumulating growth, but discipling all believers. And in comparison, just like in Jesus’ earthly ministry, we have true followers of Gods, a few or many fans, and a few or many curious onlookers. Still, when we go through more difficult seasons, when we lose valuable workers, Christ sees to it that His work carries on. God never stops working to see that His glory is revealed. And, maybe, we don’t see or understand the seasons. But, no matter…because all we have to do is:
1. Stay focused on God —>Worship Him. Fast. Pray. Wait patiently for Him.
2. Love and obey Him
3. Love people
4. Engrave His word onto our hearts.
5. Witness of His love and truth (great commission)
6. Work together to build his kingdom by becoming part of a local church (body) of Christ.
I mean, these aren’t black and white things…these are all just ways I’m using to remind myself to remain focused on God…and to prevent distractions from discouraging me. They may be varying for everyone. The most important this is this. Though difficult times, through trials, temptations and testing, through good times, through sad times, through discouraging times - trust God.
Thank you God….thank you God…
for everything. I love you…