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Matthew 4

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY, MARCH 30

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 4

When we finished chapter 3 yesterday, things were on a spiritual high.  Jesus had just been baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”.  The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and God the Father spoke.  Then we get to chapter 4.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Then, it seems, everything goes south in a hurry.  There is so much in this chapter that we should talk about.  There is so much in this chapter that I want to talk about.  But I only have one page to write on and that means I have to be very selective.

I’ve decided to just focus on the temptation that happens at the beginning of the chapter.  The Bible says after Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry.  (I want to say, “Ya think?” I have trouble going four hours without food. Sometimes 40 minutes is a stretch.) It was then the devil showed up to do his dirtiest work.

You probably noticed Satan tempted Jesus three times.  This is significant because it may very well be every temptation fits into one of three categories.  The Bible says, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)  

So think about this.  Satan’s first temptation had to do with Jesus’ physical hunger (desire of the flesh).  The second one had to do with proving He was God’s Son (the pride of life).  The third one had to do with seeing “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (the desire of the eyes).  

Oddly enough the first temptation recorded in the Bible (Genesis 3) fits this same pattern.  It may be that Satan actually is limited in what he can do.  But he is just really good at doing it.  And, too often, we are easy marks.

Another interesting thing about this temptation in the wilderness is that the first two times Satan attacked Jesus it was about Jesus’ identity: “If you are the Son of God”.  This attack was at the very heart of who Jesus is which may be the deepest attack against any of us.  When we struggle with our identity or feel compelled to prove who we are, this attack may be in play.

 

Here’s something else to think about.  In the first temptation, Satan addressed Jesus as “The Son of God”.  But the Scripture Jesus answered with begins with “Man”.  In other words, Jesus is not facing these attacks from His divinity.  He is facing these attacks in His humanity.  This should give us so much hope.  Jesus defeated these temptations as a man, albeit the perfect man.  But, if we learn from this, we too, should be able to experience more victory over our temptations.  

That brings up the question of how was Jesus able to be victorious.  I am quite convinced His victory is based on two things: one, the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16); two, the power of God’s Word.  That, by the way, is the only basis that any of us have for victory: allow the Spirit to fill you (Ephesians 5:18) and stay in the Word of God.

Speaking of God’s Word, it is also important that we see that Satan knows and used God’s Word in his temptation of Jesus.  That’s kind of scary.  But again if we go back to the first temptation in the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve, “Has not God said…”  Now more often than not when Satan uses God’s Word, he omits parts of it which means he misuses God’s Word.  But that reinforces the fact that we desperately need to know what God’s Word actually says so we will be better prepared to recognize the truth from error, however slight.

Welp, my space is gone.  And I was just getting started on this amazing chapter. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 3

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29

 

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 3

Sometimes when we are reading in the Bible, we miss the timing of the Scripture.  For example, some 30 years has passed between Matthew 2 and Matthew 3.  We left Jesus as a child in chapter 2 and meet him as an adult in chapter 3.

But there is another timing thing at work here.  When we get to Matthew 3, it had been 400 years since the nation of Israel had heard the voice of a prophet.  Except for his written word, God went silent for four centuries.  That silence was broken with John the Baptizer (Baptist) arrived on the scene.  Not only is he the first “Old Testament” prophet that was heard from in 400 years, he is also the last “Old Testament” prophet.

His message for the masses was a call to repent.  Repent basically means to change but it has the notion of a complete, 180 degree change.  Most folks tend to push back on repentance.  So, it is interesting that such a strong message of repentance was received so well by so many as we see in verse 5.  I’m not sure our culture would be as receptive.  

But John’s message to the religious leaders of the day was really straightforward.  Actually, it was kind of in their face. John basically said they were like a wad of snakes that were more interested in proving their ancestry than they were living a life of repentance.

One of the interesting things about Old Testament prophet types is once they get started, they tend to keep on going.  John the Baptizer just keeps going.  He begins to talk about the coming Messiah.  He speaks of Jesus’ unparalleled power and ultimate worth.  He speaks of the Holy Spirit’s work. And he warns us that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the real from the imposter.

Then Jesus shows up with the purpose of being baptized by John.  That created a little conversation between John and Jesus.  John understood that Jesus had nothing to repent of; therefore, He had no reason to participate in a “baptism of repentance”.  In fact, John thought it would be better if Jesus baptized him.  But Jesus insisted and was baptized.  The question is why did Jesus submit Himself to be baptized. 

One reason may be that Jesus needed to demonstrate obedience to God given authority.  John was sent by God to baptize.  Jesus submitted to that as an undeniable example for us to submit to any and all God given authority.  

Another reason is Jesus came into the world to identify with men and to identify with men is to identify with sin.  So, Jesus’ baptism was a willing identification of the sinless Son of God with the sinful people He came to save.

A third reason is His baptism was the first step in His redemptive plan.  He who had no sin (Jesus) took His place among those who had no righteousness (us).  In this act, the Savior of the world took His place among the sinners of the world.  And since baptism is a picture of death and resurrection, Jesus’ baptism pointed not only to His death and resurrection but also to the necessity of our spiritual death and resurrection.

The chapter ends with an undeniable picture of the Trinity.  Jesus, the Son, comes out of the water.  The Holy Spirit, like a dove, descends on Jesus.  And God the Father speaks from heaven about Jesus.  What a moment that must have been!

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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