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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-25

Chapter Four

Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness ( Matthew 4:1 )

Immediately, He is now being led by the Spirit, walking after the Spirit. The New Testament has so much to say to us concerning the life of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. There are so many people that put the emphasis upon the baptism of the Holy Spirit; where in reality, the emphasis should be upon the walk of the Spirit, not the gifts, not the phenomenon, not the excitement, not the manifestations. But the real Christian emphasis should be the walk in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit, because Paul tells us in Romans( Romans 8:0 ), "And as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

I don't care how excited you get, and how high you jump under the anointing of the Spirit. What I am interested in is how straight you walk when you land. I have known too many people jumping that are not walking straight, and to me it is invalid. The excitement that you may have in the manifestation of spiritual gifts is not as important as your walking after the Spirit. Your walk in the Spirit, that is what is vital and what is important. And that is what God is looking for, for you to walk in the Spirit, not just to have spiritual excitement because of spiritual phenomenon, but to be walking in the Spirit.

Now I'm not opposed to the spiritual excitement and spiritual phenomenon, but I am opposed to walking a crooked line in the flesh. And I think that is where our emphasis needs to be laid. And when we lay the emphasis just upon the spiritual phenomenon, but not upon the walk in the Spirit, then we get into all kinds of difficulty.

So Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness [for what purpose?] to be tempted of the devil [to be tested]. And when he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungered ( Matthew 4:1-2 ).

It is interesting. Dr. Wilder-Smith, who was with us, was talking about sensual deprivation and I found that extremely interesting. Our minds are so busy interpreting to us all the stimuli around us; the sight, the hearing, the tasting, the feeling. And these sensory receptors that we have are constantly sending their little messages to the brain, the olfactory and the smelling and all; so are constantly interpreting all of this sensual data and the brain is processing it.

It is saying, man, this seat is getting hard. I wonder how much longer he's going to go? It's saying, why don't you move your position just a little bit, distribute the weight in a little different place, get a little more comfortable. At the same time your eyes are sending these little photographs at eighteen frames per second into your brain, that is interpreting these vibrations into the color and the forms and so forth. At the same time your ears are picking up the sound vibrations, and the little bones in there, the incus and the stapes, and so forth are tuning onto these vibrations and sending the vibrations in your brain. And it is unscrambling these vibrations into words. At the same time you may be perspiring, and maybe you've put a piece of mint into your mouth, and so something, so all of these sensory things are coming into your brain, and your brain is unscrambling, and interpreting for you all of this stimuli. And as a result our brains are glutted with information.

It is interesting when Dr. Wilder-Smith said that as they began to put the astronauts into the, what they call sensual deprivation, by putting them into dark rooms, into a weightless situation in the water, floating in water, so you get this sense of weightlessness, in warm water, body temperature water so you are not interpreting hot or cold and by taking away so many of the darkness of the room, the quietness that is in the room, the sterility of the room without any smells or anything within it. As they were in this position of sensual deprivation, that is the brain was not having to deal with all of the messages that were being sent by the various sensory perceptive parts of the body; that the astronauts began to have visions and spiritual experiences as God began to communicate through the sixth sense. The sixth sense that we usually do not pick up upon because the brain is glutted with all of the information from the five senses. And I found that extremely fascinating.

In fasting, your brain is being deprived of one of the normal senses, that is the taste sense. So your going through a period of time where the brain is not having to interpret the taste: sweet, bitter, flat, salty or whatever. The brain is freed from the interpreting of the senses from the taste buds. So you are giving an empty circuit in the brain, opening a line, so to speak, that that sixth sense might begin to get some messages through.

They say that after five days you lose the sense of hunger when you go on a prolonged fast. And that you do not experience hunger again until you actually start to starve to death. That usually comes between the thirty-fifth and the fortieth day that you start getting hungry. And they say that when you start getting hungry again, it's vitally important that you eat, because now you are starving to death and if you don't get some nutrition you will soon die.

It is significant that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterwards was hungry ( Matthew 4:2 ). It would indicate that He was not hungry during the period of the forty days and forty nights, but after that, He was hungry. Satan taking advantage of that hunger and that starving condition came to Him and said,

If you are the Son of God ( Matthew 4:3 ),

This is not "If" in the indicative, but "If" in the subjunctive, which is translated more properly, "since you are the Son of God."

There was no doubt in Satan's mind who He was. The demon said, "We know who thou art; the Holy One of God." And Jesus said, "Be quiet. It's not time yet." ( Luke 4:34-35 )

Satan is not saying, "If" indicative: "If you are the Son of God." He is saying, Since you are the Son of God, why don't you use your divine powers to satisfy your own fleshly needs? That is something that Satan is often tempting people with who have received gifts of the Spirit. Why don't you use your divine powers in order to satisfy your own sensual needs; your own hunger, your own appetite, your own desires? Why don't you turn these stones into bread? You've got the power to do it. You're God. You're hungry. Why don't you perform a miracle to satisfy your own desire?

Jesus answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God ( Matthew 4:4 ).

He answered the temptation of Satan with the Word of God. "Thy word", the Scripture say, "have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you." ( Psalms 119:11 )

The Word of God is our strength and our power against temptation. If you want to be strong against the temptation of the enemy, then you must get into the Word, and you must study the Word of God and hide it away in your heart.

John wrote in his first epistle, "I have written unto you, young men, because you are strong and have overcome the evil one" ( 1 John 2:13 ). And then he said, "I have written unto you, young men, because you have overcome, because the Word of God abides in you" ( 1 John 2:14 ). That's how they overcame, by the Word of God. That is how Jesus overcame the temptations, by the Word of God. It is so important that we hide the Word of God in our hearts.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him there on the pinnacle of the temple ( Matthew 4:5 ),

Tradition says it is the corner of the temple mount, which at that time was some two hundred feet down from the corner.

And he said unto him, Since you are the Son of God, jump: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee concerning thee: and they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone ( Matthew 4:6 ).

Jesus said, "It is written," answered Satan with the Word. So what does Satan do? He comes right back to Him, perverting the Word. He says, "Why don't you jump? Because it is written, He will give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways. They'll bear thee up lest you dash your foot against a stone". You won't hurt down there. The angels will bear you up. Jesus said, and it's so important to compare Scripture with Scripture,

It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God ( Matthew 4:7 ).

There are a couple of interesting Scriptures in Mark concerning the signs following those that believe. It says, "They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them" ( Mark 16:18 ).

There was a pastor back in the hills of Kentucky who took cyanide around to his members and made them drink to prove their faith. Two of them died and he was charged with manslaughter. They had doubts. There are those snake handlers. They get out the rattlesnakes and pass them around the circle. Every once in awhile we're reading of someone who is bitten by the snake and who dies. But they are doing it on the basis of Mark's gospel, chapter sixteen. But again, if they would only compare Scripture with Scripture.

Basically, this is what Satan is suggesting to Jesus, that He put Himself in personal jeopardy to prove the Scriptures. Jump, prove it, He'll give His angels. That is what it says. But Jesus was wise enough to compare Scripture with Scripture. He said, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt." You are not to put ourselves deliberately, purposefully in jeopardy to prove the Scriptures. Thus these people down in Kentucky are absolutely wrong. In fact, there is a sect of them over in Long Beach. There are not all of them back there in the hills of Kentucky. They have been doing that over in Long Beach. But it is wrong to put yourself deliberately, purposefully in jeopardy just to prove the Scriptures.

Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them ( Matthew 4:8 );

We'll deal with this more completely when we get to Luke's gospel.

And He said unto him, All of these things will I give you, if thou will bow down and worship me. And Jesus said, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve ( Matthew 4:9-10 ).

So the three temptations, each one answered by Jesus with the Word of God.

And the devil left him, and, behold, the angels came and ministered unto him. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed to Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, he came and he lived in Capernaum ( Matthew 4:11-13 ),

Capernaum is one of my favorite places there in the Holy Land, because the majority of the ministry of Jesus was accomplished there in Capernaum. And I just love that beautiful spot next to the Sea of Galilee; it's always so peaceful and so restful. There's just a good vibe all over the place, except for the priest that keeps the thing and he is sort of a bore. He got after us for filming because we didn't write in advance and get permission, and all that kind of stuff. It was absolutely stupid. He had to show his authority.

So leaving Nazareth, they came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim ( Matthew 4:15 ),

That is the area where the two tribes were apportioned, the land Zebulun and Naphtali. Naphtali had the area just north of that, so you are on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.

by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, the Galilee of the Gentiles; [So you are Decapolis, cities up there in the north.] The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand ( Matthew 4:15-17 ).

The same message that John the Baptist was declaring is now echoed by Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is at hand; the Messiah will soon be revealed; the kingdom has the potential of being set up, but of course, they rejected the Messiah.

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, and they were casting the net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And immediately left their nets, and followed him ( Matthew 4:18-20 ).

This was not their first encounter with Jesus, as we will find from the other gospels. But this is when Jesus came and called them to discipleship.

And going from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, and they were mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left their ship and their father, and followed him ( Matthew 4:21-22 ).

"No man has left father, mother, brothers, sisters, homes, families, for my sake, and the gospel's, but what they will not receive in this world a hundredfold; and in the world to come life eternal." ( Mark 10:29-30 )

And Jesus went about all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and he was healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all of Syria [clear on up north beyond the Golan into Damascus]: and they brought unto him all of the sick people that were taken with many types of diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those which had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, [wherever He would go people from the area of Galilee, Decapolis, those ten cities in the northern Galilee region] and from Jerusalem, and Judaea, and from beyond Jordan ( Matthew 4:23-25 ).

A vast multitude of people were being drawn by the miracles that Jesus was performing. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/matthew-4.html. 2014.
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