Scripture Read: Matthew 3 - 4
Title: The Temptation of Jesus
(H) Highlight verse: "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1
(E) Explain: Matthew Chapter 4 describes the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. However, his ministry begins in a very unique way. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasts for forty days and forty nights and at the conclusion of his fast the devil tempts Jesus three times and all three times Jesus refutes the temptation with Scripture. After the third temptation Jesus commands the devil to depart from him and then the angels attended to him.
Jesus announces and reiterates John's message of repentance because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven, he is referring to a current and future Kingdom where God's rule and reign is established on earth. According to John Nolland's Commentary of Matthew in regards to the Kingdom of Heaven, "At the very least in terms of preparatory activity, if not in some larger sense, things were now on the move in relation to God's rule. Clearly it is the conviction of (Jesus) that the way in which the coming rule of God would impact individuals depended heavily on how they were prepared to relate themselves already now to what was coming, but also that new possibilities were now present precisely because the kingdom of heaven had drawn near." 
In verses 18 - 22 we read about Jesus' call for his first disciples to come and follow him. He first approaches Peter (AKA Simon) and his brother Andrew, both fishermen. Jesus calls them to follow him and they immediately left their nets and followed him. He then approaches John and his brother James, both fishermen also, as they were mending their nets with their father and tells them to follow him. We read that they dropped their nets and left their father to follow Jesus.
(A) Application: Matthew chapter 4 is quite possibly one of my favorite chapters in all of the collective Gospels because I see how Jesus responds to temptation and how the disciples respond as Jesus calls them to discipleship. In this chapter we see that Jesus faced temptation, in the same way that you and I do on a daily basis. We can learn from his responses to the temptations of the devil that He used scripture to refute the devil and ultimately cast him from his presence. We are told in Hebrews 4:11, 12 "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning thoughts and intention of the hearts." God's word is powerful. It is important for the Christian to read and know God's word because it can benefit us greatly. God's word helps us in times of temptations, trials, discouragement, etc. This is why I have committed to this Foundations 260 reading plan. In reading the Bible as a whole I not only get to know God on a more intimate and personal level, but I also receive instruction, encouragement, and strength at all times.
In the conclusion of the chapter I see the call of Jesus' disciples and their commitment to discipleship. The first step of discipleship is being called. Jesus chose Peter, Andrew, James, and John for no specific reason other than they were they ones He chose. There was nothing special about these men, in fact they were average (maybe even below average) men who had no formal education or specific calling. They were fishermen and Jesus calls them to follow him. This leads to the second step of discipleship and that is responding to his call. The response of these two sets of brothers is amazing... They dropped their nets and followed Him. I think sometimes we overlook the significance of their response. They dropped EVERYTHING to follow Jesus. These men were fishermen this was their livelihood. When they dropped their nets and followed, they essentially had nothing, but they gained Jesus, which meant they had now had everything. This reminds me that their is a cost for discipleship; we must give up something (or in most cases... everything) in order to follow him but the cost is completely worth it.
(R) Respond: Lord, thank you for showing me how to face temptation and that there is a cost to discipleship that is totally worth it. May I faithfully follow you all of the days of my life.
 Noland, John (2005). The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text, p.176. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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