Healing (Matthew 4:24-25)

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Earlier in Matthew, we learned that when Jesus saw the cue that His ministry was to kick into high gear, He went from Nazareth to Capernaum. Capernaum was in the far north of Israel, close to the Gentiles. Jesus went there to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that the people living in darkness would see a great light. Now that light has dawned. Jesus has begun teaching, preaching and healing. 

As one might expect, those living so long in darkness are very much drawn to that light. Where Matthew 4:23 told us what Jesus’ ministry consisted of, verses 24 and 25 tell us the result. News spreads. It doesn’t stay within the confines of Jewish territory, but moves into Syria and the Decapolis; “News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.”  

Sometimes the people we are sent to minister to are not the people who are most receptive. But when hope is offered, those who are receptive respond. Jesus offers hope. Hope for the ill. Hope for those in pain. Hope for the demonized. Hope for those with untreatable conditions. Jesus offers all of them hope. So the needy come, and there are a lot of needy! 

Jesus quickly gains followers from all the surrounding areas. The language used here points to a great number of followers – “large”, “crowds”(note the pural) and the five different regions mentioned. One commentator notes, “The text abounds in hyperbole: Jesus goes throughout Galilee, and all Syria hears of his deeds; the people bring all the sick, and Jesus heals every illness; great crowds follow Jesus, from every quarter of Israel. With language such as this, Matthew paints a picture of a major undertaking.”

Hyperbole aside, the stirring thing about these two verses is buried right in the middle of them; “and he healed them.” The hope Jesus offers is not a vain hope. It is hope realized. They came in response to news that a teacher was preaching good news and healing – and that is exactly what they found.

Sometimes when people pray or minister to others, they aren’t really expecting God to do anything. They will say all the right words, and follow all the right ordinances. But they don’t expect God to actually show up. They are expecting a miracle in their choice of words, but they aren’t expecting a manifest work of God. Yet Jesus is able and willing to actually heal. To heal the ill. To heal those in pain. To heal the demonized. To heal those who have ‘untreatable’ conditions. As Matthew Henry long ago noted, “He healed all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease. There are diseases which are called the reproach of physicians, being obstinate to all the methods they can prescribe; but even those were the glory of this Physician, for he healed them all, however inveterate. His word was the true panpharmacon—all-heal.” 

Jesus can heal, and Jesus does heal. While that was not the core of His message, we would do well to remember that. We would do well to pray for that and to expect that. Amen.

What you don’t believe strongly enough to teach doesn’t do you any good

A.W. Tozer


Praise God that the day is coming when the mortal will put on immortality, and the corrupt will put on incorruptibility. On that day we will be free forever from sickness, disease and death. Glory to God!

Beginning (Matthew 4:21-22)

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His baptism and temptation over and His first disciples called, Jesus now begins His ministry.  Whereas Luke gives a better chronological account and includes detail on Jesus’ preaching ministry in Galilee, Matthew’s concern with the broader picture paints a clear understanding of what Jesus considered His ministry, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  From this verse we learn that Jesus had a three-point ministry model. 

Yet the first thing we learn about that model is that it was mobile. The fact that Jesus went to the people instead of merely setting up shop (and expecting people to come to Him) is a powerful example of how we must have a missionary mindset in ministry. Lost and hurting people can’t find us because they are not just lost, they are spiritually dead. Jesus knows that the paralyzed and injured can’t walk to Him – how much less so the dead! The people of God must always go to the lost! 

Going, He taught. Teaching the people in their synagogues afforded benefit to those who were seeking God, and allowed that the people could perceive Jesus as a teacher – a man worthy of respect, a man with things to say that are a blessing to hear. Of course, it is a small jump from teaching to preaching – for as soon as you begin teaching material from God instead of material from others, you have crossed the invisible line between teaching and preaching. Teaching can be done without spiritual authority, but preaching relies on it. To that point, it might well be said that Jesus only preached. One commentator writes, “It is unlikely that Matthew intends any sharp distinction between ‘teaching’ and ‘proclaiming’. The choice of ‘teaching’ for synagogue activity may simply reflect the educational orientation of synagogue life.” 

Lastly, Jesus healed. It would become what he was known for, and it would become the great draw for the multitudes. 

To the worldly, healing is far more impactful than teaching and preaching. But God knows that healing unredeemed flesh (that is, flesh that is not yet fit for glory) is temporary at best. Teaching that results in a redeemed mind, and preaching that results in a changed soul – these are far more beneficial than restored bodies that still wind up in a grave.

Make no mistake – healing is a needed Kingdom work. But it is also a risky work, because apart from the truth, the gift of restored health can easily be perceived as more valuable than the giver of the gift. To do wonders and miracles without also communicating the truth of God is to risk becoming a kind of medical Santa Claus. And Jesus does not want to be known as that. Jesus is the Truth, and the Truth seeks to be known as truth, not just a wonderful experience or even just as a tremendous blessing. That is because truth does more than just heal. Truth imparts responsibility. And this is truth: we all have a responsibility to honour God, whether we are healed or not. 

The Lord Jesus Himself never held Divine Healing meetings. He did heal many. He did heal people in crowds (because He was fulfilling prophecy as to the signs that would accompany the Messiah), but He never advertised such meetings, but rather avoided as far as He could all such public manifestations of His healing powers. He strictly charged those whom He healed to keep still about it, lest men should make Him a mere Healer and not what He really was, a Teacher and a Saviour of the soul.

R.A. Torrey

APPLICATION: Intentionality

It takes much intentionality to keep the main thing the main thing. How are you keeping the truth of God the main thing in the ministry of Christ through you?

Planning (Matthew 4:18-20)

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There is a principle that applies to every good and profitable work: One does not just up and start – one pauses, considers what is to be done, plans accordingly and only then starts. 

The gardener does not immediately grab a shovel and start digging – they must first ensure they are dressed for the job, then they look at the land. They must be ready to dig and determine where to start digging, so that their work will not be in vain. Likewise the architect does not draw up plans for a building without first consulting the bylaws, and then considering the land the building will sit on. The surgeon does not just start cutting, but checks to see that all the tools are in order, reads the scans and ensures the life support team is ready. This is a universal principle of starting well. Prepare yourself, and then observe, and only then act. This same principle applies to every good work.

We are at Matthew 4:18. Jesus has prepared His own soul. He has dealt with the tempter’s work, and has now gone to the seashore. He does not start ministry immediately, but wisely pauses and observes. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.”

Jesus looks. He sees – likely among all the others working there – two brothers. He knows them, because He has had conversations with them before (see John 1:35-42). In fact, He had been with them at a wedding in the past  and blessed them in a dramatic way (John 2:1-11). Perhaps it was at that wedding that the disciples put their faith in Him, but they had not yet been called. 

He watches as they go about their jobs. They cast a net into the lake. The text adds, “for they were fishermen”. That information seems redundant, but that is just a signal that something else is happening here.

One imagines that Jesus was contemplating how and when to call them into service. After all, Jesus would later testify, “I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”  So it is entirely possible that He was watching them while praying – asking the Father to tell Him when and how to call them. It is entirely possible that seeing that net rise in the sky and fall into the lake, Jesus heard the Father tell Him exactly what to say. For it is only then that Jesus speaks. ““Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”” 

Jesus’ soul and mind are prepared – He is done dealing with the tempter. He has been most prayerful. He has engaged the hearts of the people by means of prior relationship. He has waited on God’s signal. Subsequently, the work of reaping is immediately profitable, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” 

Sometimes we rush to the work of evangelism entirely out of zeal. But a fruitful harvest never follows a forgetful work. The real work of evangelism is almost entirely unseen. Spiritual preparedness, prayer and observation all take time, and they all go without public announcement. 

But that ‘behind the scenes’ work is never unfruitful.

What is the problem? Rather than following Jesus’ four-step approach, we reverse the order and begin with the last step, witnessing, and skip the blessing, the fellowship and the caring that are to precede the good news. In most cases, this approach to witnessing does not work.

Ed Silvoso

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Are you ready to engage the work of harvest? How have you prepared yourself? Have you spoken to the Father about who you are called to reach? How have you blessed them? How is your relationship with them developing?

Working (Matthew 4:18)

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Matthew has told us of Jesus’ genealogy, of His birth, of John the Baptist, of  Jesus’  baptism and temptation, and of the message Jesus began preaching. Now Matthew starts the story of exactly how Jesus called His disciples. It begins, “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee…” 

From this we recognize that Jesus chose to begin His ministry at the seashore. Today, most of us would walk by the seaside because it’s contemplative and serene – typically a nice place to go for a walk. In Jesus’ day the seashore was not perceived as that. It was a workplace and a marketplace. Many in the community made their living as fishermen, either in their own boats or working for someone who had a boat. Going to the shore was not unlike going to the shipping docks and factories of today. 

Some only caught what they needed for themselves that day, but if you caught more than you could use, you sold it as soon as you got to the shore. If find that hard to believe, we must remember that refrigeration is a recent invention. The shoreline was a farmer’s market. What do you find at a farmer’s market? People selling the food they just harvested. Harvest the land, or harvest the ocean, it is the same principle at work. Hard work was being done, and the work of business was being done. The seashore in Jesus’ day was a workplace where you could consistently find people. People who had jobs, people who had means, people who had motivation. People who were busy and had obligations and schedules. 

What a bizarre place to start calling disciples! 

To be fair, He didn’t have to start there. He could’ve gone to the library, where He’d find people who had a degree of education and time to study. He could’ve gone to the government, where He’d find people who had civic influence. He could’ve gone to the Synagogue, where He’d find people who had religious passion. But He didn’t. He goes to the seashore, where He knew He’d find regular working folks. Folks not unlike the people that most of us rub shoulders with every single day. This is the ‘field’ that Jesus begins work in. 

There is a certain degree of irony in recognizing that. Before the fall, Adam was placed in the garden of God and instructed to work it and take care of it (Gen 2:15). Now, Jesus goes to His garden – the land of Israel – the land God has chosen for His people. He begins to work the garden. Not to produce physical fruitfulness, but to produce spiritual fruitfulness. Not among the exalted and the learned, but among the ‘salt of the sea’ – the common and ordinary working folk. 

This is truth – mankind works the land and the sea (which are given to us), but God works mankind! One imagines that just as a gardener looks at a patch of ready ground and takes pleasure in the smell of the turned soil, so Jesus looked at the busy shoreline and took pleasure in the sights and sounds of busy people. Where we might have seen a crowd of uninterested and otherwise obligated individuals, Jesus saw a garden full of souls. 

And some of those souls were ripe for harvest.

I don’t have to pray for the harvest; it’s there. But the harvesters are few, so they get my prayers.

Calvin Ratz

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How do you view your workplace? How do you think God sees it?

Consistency (Matthew 4:17)

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Today, much effort is put toward developing new ways of communicating  God’s truth.  New technologies mandate much of that, but it isn’t just new technology that drives new methodology. Our culture is constantly changing, so the form of our communication becomes dated, and it does so as fast as the culture changes. New methodology is constantly needed. 

Often, church leadership come to understand that a new day requires a new form of Gospel communication. In a largely Christian and rural culture, brush arbor meetings, door to door evangelization and large crusades were effective methods. In a post-Christian, individualistic and urban culture, such methodology produces very little fruit. But while the communication of the Gospel gets contextualized to the culture of the day, the Gospel itself must never be changed

We can see that mandate throughout the Old Testament. God’s message is very clear right from the beginning. He is God, and we are created to be His people. We must therefore turn from our sin and toward Him. Salvation by God comes only by repentance. 

Job said of God, “He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil.”

Isaiah said, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation.””  

Jeremiah wrote, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you, that you may serve me.” 

Ezekiel said, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!’”

Indeed, the Word records, “The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways.”

So also in the New Testament.  We’ve already read of how John the Baptist had exactly the same message, “John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”” Now we read of Jesus in Matthew 4:17 preaching exactly the same thing, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”” It is of some great note that this is the very first thing we hear Jesus preaching

That message can easily get lost in the modern church, where the prevailing message is not one of repentance, but one of comfort and blessing. Emails and texts and videos are produced to encourage people to come and belong, and to come and be blessed. People are sent to help. People are sent to bless without strings. That is all good – even very good – but if we do not also preach repentance, we are misleading those He made for Himself. Without a call to repentance, strategies and better communication are nothing more than worldly advertising. They have their place, but they are no substitute for what God purposes to give His children.

It could be said that without repentance you can never have lasting blessing, because the blessing of God comes through unity with God, and unity with God starts when you turn from yourself to look to Him. Here there is no place for bait and switch. Repentance really is the first word of the Gospel! 

This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Jesus (from Luke 26:46-48)

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What Gospel are you preaching? How are you getting that message out?

Tipping His Hand (Matthew 4:13-16)

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One of the unique beauties of Scripture is that every now and again you read of God tipping His hand. It is as if He occasionally shows us why He is doing something so that we might understand more of His thinking. 

Some seven hundred years before John the Baptist would be imprisoned, the prophet Isaiah wrote, “In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” So it comes to pass that 700 years later, speaking of Jesus’ actions after John’s imprisonment, Matthew writes, “Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali -to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

This absolute fulfilment of prophesy means that Jesus’ move to Capernaum – in response to John’s imprisonment – was far from impromptu, and certainly not reactive. It was planned for a very long time. God had been waiting to strategically place Jesus near the Gentiles, and Jesus had been waiting for the Father’s cue to go there. It was the Father’s design that this King of the Jews would not live in Jerusalem, but on the northern border of Israel, specifically to be close to the people who were in the shadow of His revelation and those who had no light at all. 

The Jews had been given the light of God’s prophecies, and the light of God’s historic work among them. But they had hoarded that light to themselves. The nearby Gentiles were truly “people walking in darkness”. Up until now, they did not have God’s manifest favor. They did not have God speaking to them. They lacked hope, and they were lead to believe the saviour to come was not for them, but only for the Jews. 

Fortunately, that was about to change. As Isaiah wrote, “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress.” It is upon them that the light has dawned, and ironically, instead of a mostly Jewish following, it would be largely Gentiles and the Jewish ‘fringe people’ that perceive the great light that is the first appearing of Jesus Christ. 

Their joy is nothing short of the joy of salvation. As Isaiah said, “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.” True to form, Israel was enlarged – the nation of those saved by faith in God would include people from nearby Decapolis.

God has always been concerned with everyone made in His image, Jew and Gentile alike. Those on the fringe and those who the religious leadership would not otherwise welcome are no exception. He is purposing to fill the world with “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” There is no nation, no skin tone, no language and no culture exempted from His purpose.


“When you go to the poor with the gospel, the rich join hands with you to take it there.”

William Booth

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Who has God strategically placed you among?  How long have they been waiting to see the light He has already given you?

Character (Matthew 4:12-13)

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All action demonstrates character. There are some actions in our lives that we   do entirely without any thought at all – impromptu behaviour that demonstrates our mood. There are also the reactive things we do as a result of outside circumstance. These demonstrate our maturity. Finally, there are the proactive actions that we take deliberately and with much forethought. These demonstrate the deepest part of our character.

In modern leadership courses we are taught that reactive response is almost always unwise. That is true – largely because most of us are actually not very mature, in spite of age, experience or education. 

It is also true that the most proactive action of all is that which was planned long ago, but only taken when the most opportune time presents itself. To the outsider it may look reactive, but to the individual, it is the fruit of much patience.

“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali.”  Matthew notes that Jesus takes this action in response to John’s imprisonment. He makes four references as to the geographic location Jesus moves to: It is in Galilee, it is the city of Capernaum, it was by the lake, and in the vicinity of Zebulun and Naphtali. This allows us to identify the area as the northwest side of the sea of Galilee. The exact location is lost to us today, but “Two of the characters described as being in Capernaum help to identify its location as near the border of the Jordan and the political frontier. The story of the centurion (Mt 8:5; Lk 7:2) points to the small garrison of about 100 men found at such a frontier town. The story of Levi’s call to leave the customs post controlling the taxation of the area reflects on the same border character of the town (Mt 9:9; Mk 2:14; Lk 5:27).”

Scholars tell us that Herod ruled over the area where John was apprehended and also over all of Galilee. So Jesus did not leave the area because he was afraid. He went to Capernaum because John’s arrest and imprisonment was a cue. It was a signal to Him that the time was now right to begin His own public ministry. Jesus was waiting for the Father to allow the enemy to close the door on John’s ministry, and until that happened, He would wait and allow John to continue to prepare the people for Him.

We may feel forced upon by circumstance. But circumstance is not an outside force to God. He is the Lord of circumstance, and very much sovereign over it. To know that is to see the unplanned events around us as cues for His work, and not the tragedy and hardship that the world perceives.

Life’s disappointments are veiled love’s appointments.

C.A. Fox

APPLICATION: Intentionality

What is happening around you right now?  What do you think God is up to?

What God is Doing (Matthew 4:11-12)

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 Every spiritual battle is on account of heavenly opposition to God’s purposes.  But not every spiritual battle is all about the task(s) we are doing and what is happening around us. Sometimes it is all about who we are, and what God is doing with and in and through us.

In Matthew 4:1-11, we see Jesus being led out into the wilderness, “to be tempted by the devil.” That was a trial for Jesus because temptation is satan’s work of appealing to the flesh to frustrate God’s best. But it is also an object lesson for all of us who are likewise tempted, because Jesus overcame to God’s glory. Therefore, as often as we feel it, God uses our own temptation to also glorify Himself. For if we overcome we do so only by demonstrating the power of Christ in us to overcome, thereby demonstrating the result of Christ’s work. And if we fall in our temptation and subsequently cry out for mercy, we glorify God by becoming a demonstration of His mercy on account of Christ’s work. Although the former is far better, either way God is glorified. The only way to truly fail is to fall in temptation and not cry out for His mercy. Then we truly fail, for only then satan can use our failure for his own purpose.

One must also remember that Jesus’ trial in the wilderness wasn’t because Jesus was doing anything particularly damaging to satan’s kingdom. It was only that Jesus was existing in the flesh – and in reality, satan didn’t even initiate that trial. The Spirit led Jesus there to be tempted. Not because Jesus was to be ‘tried’ by the Father – as though He who had just said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” wanted to test whether His Son whom He loved and was pleased with was worthy of such love. Rather, it was that God wanted to humiliate satan all the more. For what could be more humiliating than getting advance notice that you would fail in your work before you even started working? Indeed, satan did fail in his attempt to overcome Jesus in the wilderness, and if satan couldn’t overcome Jesus before Jesus started His work, how much less could satan overcome Jesus when Christ was almost done His work? Momentum is a powerful thing. 

The Father knew that. He knew that Jesus would overcome satan both in the wilderness and on the cross. He was serving satan notice. It was God saying, “I’m going to win, and you’re going to lose” right to adversary’s face in a language only His adversary could understand. Of course, satan didn’t see it that way. He saw an opportunity to ruin Jesus before Jesus’ ministry even started. He also didn’t see the cross as Jesus’ great victory. He saw it as his own victory. Satan may be smarter than any human, but compared to God he is downright stupid. 

God is not stupid. Nor is He unkind. He sent Jesus to earth to accomplish something He knew Jesus could accomplish. He led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted in an outrageously bold provocation, knowing Jesus would roundly defeat the tempter and at the same time greatly encourage all of us who read of what happened. God is good, and God is wise. And God is gracious. “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” He may have led Jesus out to the wilderness to be tried, but the moment His own purposes are complete in that trial He immediately sends refreshment and encouragement. Not just because Jesus needed that (though He in the flesh likely did), but almost undoubtedly because it was the fulfillment of the very verse of Psalm 91 that satan quoted to try to trick Jesus, “For he will command his angels concerning you.” It was refreshment and encouragement for Christ at the right time, and the timing was rubbing salt in satan’s wound. 

Our temptations are never just about us. We may think they are. We may even feel like they surely are. But every time we are tempted, God is also at work. Every time we are tempted it is a reminder that God’s mission to ruin satan is ongoing. Every time it is a reminder that we are the chief beneficiaries. Every time we overcome and every time we cry out for mercy, God is glorified – and satan is further humiliated. Amen.

Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe! But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.

C.S. Lewis, from The Chronicles of Narnia


Praise God that He is always at work in our lives to His purpose and His glory!

Authority (Matthew 4:10-11)

Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860

It would not be an understatement to note that Matthew 4:1-11 is the  preeminent  passage in all of Scripture to teach about spiritual warfare. For in this passage you see Jesus the Son of God being tempted by the accuser of our souls. This is the epitome of Satan’s pride, that he thinks God in the flesh is a target he is capable of swaying to his twisted way of thought. It is also a demonstration of the epitome of human capability, that through simple meditation on and application of the Word of God, a man in the flesh can defeat our strongest foe – and that on his own turf! Further, the passage ends with two very upbeat notes about engaging in spiritual battle. 

First of all, verse 11 begins, “Then the devil left him.”  That means that spiritual battles can and do end. We are not ‘on the front lines’ for our entire lives. When such battles are won we are graced with a season of freedom. That doesn’t mean we won’t face another battle down the road, but it does mean that victory is more than possible. That is good news – most of all to those who are growing weary of the fighting! 

There is something else that is good news for us – actually the best news. It is found in verse 10, “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” That tells us that the battle was ended not by Satan, but by Christ. For it was He who commanded, “Away from me!” and He said it with an authority that cannot be refused by even the fiercest enemy, for it was backed up with the eternal truth of the Word of God. Having the Scripture on our side in a spiritual battle is like having gravity on our side in the flesh!

The result is very clear, “Then the devil left him.”  This is very good news indeed – not only for Jesus in that moment, but for all of us who follow in His footsteps. For He says to all of us who follow Him, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” In the spiritual battle we have the same authority Jesus had, for we labour for the same King. A private on the front line of the war has all the authority of the generals back home. 

Moreover, Jesus promised His presence to His disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He even prayed for all who call Him Lord, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” 

So Matthew 4:10 is very good news indeed, because we who are His disciples and also face spiritual battle have both His presence with us and His authority upon us. It means we who are walking in fellowship with God and who are on mission with Jesus can overcome and are expected to overcome. 

For such reasons Jesus Himself testified, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” God’s children have no need to fear even the greatest of temptations. Satan and his hordes cannot defeat us, for with but a command and the Scripture, they must move on to lesser targets. 

Some of us don’t start fighting the battle because we’re not sure we can win the war, but the war has already been won nearly two thousand years ago at Calvary. All you have to worry about is winning the battle today. God can take care of tomorrow.

Mark Batterson

APPLICATION: Thankfulness

Praise God that He has given us everything we need to overcome! As Jesus was victorious, we too will be victorious!

The Temptation of Worship (Matthew 4:9-10)

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In Luke 4, Jesus preaches at Nazareth. He quotes Isaiah 61 and in doing so He  proclaims  His mission statement to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of God’s favor. 

Obviously, that mission would be made immeasurably easier if He had no opposition to it – if He had the co-operation of those who might be otherwise opposed to Him right from the start. It is this co-operation that Satan offered Jesus in Matthew 4, before Jesus rose to speak at the synagogue in Nazareth. Together on the very high mountain, Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Matthew 4:9 details Satan’s offer. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  

Starving and tired, knowing what He came to do and now faced with the temptation of accomplishing His mission without bothering to overthrow the enemy, Jesus does not hesitate in His response. Matthew 4:10 declares, “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”” 

It is but two verses. Two verses that encapsulate the whole of the spiritual war. The first (Matt 4:9) is the epitome of temptation at the intersection of personal felt need and seeming expedience. The next (Matt 4:10) is an authoritative rejection of demonic presence based on the written Word of God. Two complete polar opposites, with but one thing in common – the idea of worship.

Tony Reike wrote a brief synopsis of Beale’s book, We Become What We Worship; “His thesis is simple: “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.” He traces the theme throughout Scripture to show that we are worshippers, and that our worship exposes us and changes us. We either revere the world and are conformed to the sinful patterns of the world, or we revere God and are progressively conformed into his likeness.” 

Worship does expose us, for to be worshipful one must be vulnerable. And worship does change us, for to be vulnerable is to be open to influence – either to our hurt, or to our benefit. So in the act of choosing the object of our worship, we determine who will influence us the most – for better or worse. 

Jesus does not leave that decision to his emotion, or even to His own intellect – weakened as both may be by the physical trial He has undergone. He takes His decision from the Word of God. He makes that decision through remembrance and repetition of the Word He has memorized from His childhood days: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. […] Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.”

To worship God Most High in the comfort and joy of a short corporate gathering is easy. It takes little effort and virtually no practice. But to maintain worship of God Most High in the stress of everyday life – and especially in the darkest moments of our most severe temptation – is the fruit of much time in the Word of God

I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

The Father, speaking through Solomon (Pr 4:11–13)

APPLICATION: Intentionality

How full is your mind with the Word of God? Will you be able to stand in the hour of temptation?