In Jesus’ Words: The Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11)

temptationThis is one of the most mysterious passages found in the New Testament.  It has been the focus of many questions from both skeptics and scholars.  But it is not my purpose to debate.  I am on a journey; to turn down all the noise and constant distraction from our society, and spend time reading only Jesus’ words from the New Testament to see what He has to say.  “If Jesus is who he said he was, then the only thing that truly matters are His words.”

Jesus’ first recorded conversation in Matthew 3 is with John the Baptist, where He announces his ministry through the act of baptism.  Next, he has a conversation with the devil.

~ Matthew 4:1-11  The Temptation of Jesus ~

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

But He answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”

Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.”

There are a few important facts worth noting from this passage before looking at Jesus’ response.
1. There is a devil, who tempts us and tries to deceive us.
2. There is a Spirit (God) who allows this to happen.
3. The kingdoms of this world belong to Satan, and he wants to be worshiped over God.
4. There are angels to minister to us in time of need.

When Jesus responds to Satan’s attempts, He speaks with authority.  He does not need to prove anything.  Nor does He argue with Satan.  He responds by quoting the Word of God, which Satan cannot dispute.  And, Jesus has the power to tell Satan to leave.

This conversation also tells us about the nature of Satan, through one single word – “if”.
“If you are the Son of God…,” Satan said.  Satan knew exactly who Jesus was and even quoted scripture himself.  But by saying “if”, he was introducing doubt.  Satan tries to make us doubt what we already know.  How many times have we chosen to do something which we knew better?  As Christians, we have the spirit of Jesus within us at all times, and we have the same authority through Jesus Christ to tell Satan to leave. We don’t have to prove anything either.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, at His weakest, alone and hungry, He was able to feel as we feel, and to understand our temptations and struggles.  Through His words, He has given us the way to resist the tempter and his doubts.

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In Jesus’ Words: To Fulfill All Righteousness (Matthew 1-3)

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I have often said to those I meet, “Just read Jesus’ words in the New Testament and you will be amazed at what He says.”
Tune out all the noise and constant bombardment of our society; disregard the rhetoric of those trying to determine if or what parts of the Bible are true; put aside the politics and debates over man-made laws; and for awhile, just come and listen to Jesus’ words.  If Jesus is who he said he was, then the only thing that truly matters are His words.

I too was curious about my own advice.  I have studied the Bible and devotions over the years, but I’ve been longing for some time to tune out and listen intently to what Jesus had to say; to quench my own thirst.  I went to the bookstore in search of a book written solely about Jesus’ words from the Bible but could not find anything.  So I decided to go directly to the source instead: the red-letter words of the New Testament and only recorded sayings of Jesus Christ, and read them for myself.  I hope you will join me on this journey of discovering what Jesus said to us.

~ Matthew 1-3:  To Fulfill All Righteousness ~

To keep it simple, I started with the first book of the New Testament, even though the books are not written in chronological order.  There are several authors who contributed to the Bible at different times.  This is good, because unlike the Quran, the New Testament is written by many witnesses who personally experienced Jesus over many years and places.  The first recorded words of Jesus in the New Testament are found in Matthew 3:15.  Here is a little background leading up to Jesus’ first written words.

Matthew begins by telling us the background of Jesus.  He shows the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to David and Abraham.  He explains how Jesus was born, the Magi that came to visit him, Joseph and Mary’s escape to Egypt, and how they later return to Nazareth after King Herod dies.  “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Matthew 2:23

Next, Matthew introduces us to John the Baptist, who went before Jesus speaking of  “the One who is to come” and telling people to repent and be baptized.  This was a new type of thinking in those days.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then John consented.  Matthew 3:13-15

Jesus had come to fulfill all righteousness.  But what did these first words mean?

Jesus’ act of baptism performed here at the beginning of his ministry, and his final act of dying on the cross, are the two most meaningful actions that Jesus performed. Baptism represents repentance, and Jesus had come to show them the way to repentance and forgiveness of their sins.  Through this act of humility, Jesus announced his mission and promise to all mankind.  He did not come to be an earthly king or warrior, but a humble servant who came to love and save mankind.  This was the fulfillment of all righteousness.

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