Matthew Chapter 4
After baptism come temptation and a wilderness experience. This experience is part of the winnowing process which turns a “calling” into a “ministry.” Every new believer will go through a similar experience. If one is true to the calling of God then you will follow where God leads depending upon God for guidance, even if that means into the wilderness. Jesus rebuts the devil with words from Scripture. But these words reflect a willingness to be in God’s hands not tempted to take a short cut to success which is often just a trap. Israel went though a time in the wilderness, but they failed in obedience. Here in this time, Jesus remains faithful to God and his calling. And when it is done angels come to minister. A respite from the tempter does not mean the job is done. It means it is time to start working on the real task set before you. Beating temptation is not the active ministry only the prelude to active ministry. Devils and angels, if you are not in the hands of one you are in the care of the other.
Now Jesus is ready for his ministry to begin. Ordained by God, tempted by the devil, his course is set. Jesus takes up John’s message: “repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.” A theme seen in the Gospel of Mark, but a theme developed much more in this Gospel.
Jesus goes out to the common people, not the professionals and experts. Jesus seeks his first disciples among the average people, not religious leaders or other rabbis. And four fishermen respond. Why? Did they know Jesus? Did they sense his power or hear his words? Were they looking for a reason to escape the common life? Were they looking for excitement and a change of pace? Did they know the consequences of their “yes” to Jesus?
We see Jesus’ power revealed in the next section. He heals many. People are attracted to power, power that heals and a message of repentance draws the crowds. There seems no limit to Jesus’ power to heal “all” kinds of illness and disease. He is becoming famous. Now that his resume has been established, his power revealed and crowds gathered we get a glimpse at his teachings. He taught the disciples and the crowds. The next three chapters look at the teachings of Jesus in depth. It is not just a few sentences strung together or a few parables as we see in the Gospel of Mark, this next section reveals the heart of Jesus’ teachings and attitudes.