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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-25

There could be no doubt therefore that He would fulfil this virtual pledge to bear their sins on Calvary. Notice too that the Father approves Him in this unqualified way before His being tested by Satan in the wilderness (Ch.4). Certainly God could not speak in this way to anyone else before the time of his testing; but could do so with absolute fullness of approval to His beloved Son. Therefore, He could not fail. This public anointing by the Spirit would correspond to the anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16:13, for David, after his anointing, suffered long before reigning, being in this a lovely type of Christ. Before this King of lowly character begins His public ministry, He is proven, through the cunning opposition of Satan, to be just what God the Father has said of Him, His beloved Son, worthy of His full delight. The Spirit of God "carried" Him into the wilderness for the express purpose of His being tempted by the devil. He was to be in circumstances totally contrary to the pleasant conditions that surrounded Adam when he was tempted. More than this, He fasted forty days and forty nights, therefore being in a physically weakened condition. If there had been in Him any inclination to succumb to temptation, then in such circumstances this would have been manifested. But, as He said later, "The prince of this world cometh, and both nothing in Me" (John 14:30).

Satan's first temptation is to urge Him to relieve His hunger by using His divine power as Son of God to turn stones into breed. This in itself would not be an evil thing, for it was an appeal as regards human need. But the Lord was the Man of faith, who received His instructions from God, not from Satan. He answered as the perfectly dependent Man, using Deuteronomy 8:3 to express the fact that He lived by the word of God, which is infinitely superior to natural food. If we too, in simplicity of faith, depend honestly upon God's word, He will take care of our material needs (Matthew 6:33).

It may seem strange that the devil had the power to take the Lord, in bodily form, to the pinnacle of the temple, and that the Lord would allow him to do so. But certainly, if the devil had such power, then there is no question of the power of angels to preserve the Lord, even in being thrown from that height. The devil was allowed to bring the Lord there in order that the Lord's: superiority to all temptation might be proven. Satan suggested that He prove He was Son of God by throwing Himself down. But He proved it by refusing the temptation completely, again quoting Scripture. Satan had partially quoted Psalms 91:11-12, but left out "to keep thee in all thy ways"' for this would not suit Satan's purpose. The Lord's quotation had to do with Man's responsibility to God, Which is to the point. His Ways were always to please God.

This second temptation was an appeal to human pride, a thing Satan fully understands, but in the Lord there was no response to this whatever, as would be the tendency in every other man.

The third temptation Was from the viewpoint of an exceptionally high mountain. This is again miraculous that Satan was able to show the Lord all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. We must not forget that he is able to work miracles, but always his purpose is evil. His appeal this time Was to human desire for power and wealth, a strong motivating influence in men generally. The subtlety Of Satan's offer of all these things is apparent. These had been delivered to Satan, a cruel Usurper, by means Of Man's sin. He promised all to the Lord if he would worship him. Satan wanted this worship in order to make the Lord subservient to him, in which case the Lord would not receive the kingdoms at all, despite this fair appearing promise.

The Lord's answer is once more from Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:13), again a simple declaration of man's responsibility to God. Thank God that Christ will take all Of this by means Of paying a great purchase price, the sacrifice of Himself, in which the name of God is eternally glorified, and Satan destroyed. He had not the least inclination to yield to Satan's temptations. As Man He, could not fail, for He is more than man: He is God.

He has told Satan to leave, and Satan does so. Faith at all times will accomplish this result: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

For a time the Lord Jesus remained in Judea, baptizing (that is, his disciples doing so), as is seen in John 3:22-23 and John 4:1-2; and this at the same time as John was baptizing in Judea also. This ministry of baptizing evidently come to an end when John was put in prison. No longer do either John or the Lord Jesus continue to baptize, so for as the record goes. Hearing of John's imprisonment, He did nothing to intervene, but left Judea for Galilee, where this Gospel views him until chapter 19. His brief visit to Nazareth is implied here, but nothing said of it, as in Luke 4:1-30. To fulfil Isaiah's prophecy, however, He came to live in Capernaum on the sea-coast of Lake Galilee, the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali being specially favoured by the presence of the Messiah of Israel.

It is called "Galilee of the Gentiles" because Gentiles had been largely mixed with the Jewish population. For this reason Galilee was despised by the Jews of Judea, who prided themselves on the purity of their lineage. The Lord did not cater to this pride. His ministry in Galilee, and His choosing Galilean apostles emphasizes both His grace to those who had failed under law and His faithfulness in humbling the pride of those who boosted in their purity.

The Jews of Jerusalem considered themselves enlightened in contrast to the Galileans, of whom Scripture itself speaks as sitting in darkness. The Jews' darkness was certainly as great, if not greater, but since they did not admit it, they lost the privilege of the Lord's gracious presence. His occasional visits to Jerusalem drew out the Jews opposition to the light rather than to awaken their response in appreciation of it.

As John had preached at Jordan, so now does the Lord Himself preach in Galilee, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This was a necessary preparation for the gospel of the grace of God, for if one does not recognize the guilt of his sins he will have no interest in having them forgiven. At least in Galilee there seemed more concern to listen to this message than in Judea.

He begins to gather His disciples at the sea-side. Andrew and Simon had before (in Judea) been introduced to Him (John 1:35-42), the Lord then giving Simon the name Peter. Their occupation appropriately illustrates the work for which the Lord called them. Casting the net into the sea speaks of evangelisation. Peter was suited for this work in a public way, as we see in Acts 2:14-41, and no doubt Andrew fitted for personal evangelisation (John 1:40-41). At the Lord's call they immediately left their nets and followed Him, to become fishers of men.

James and John, however, also brothers, were in a boat with their father, mending nets. A family relationship is specially noted here; while "mending" has the meaning of "restoring." Does this not imply the work of building up the saints for their use in the work of the Lord, rather than evangelisation? This involves teaching and shepherding, which was no doubt the special work of James and John. In this case too the call of the Lord Jesus brings an immediate response. They leave the ship and their father. Faith enables them to give up the very means of their material support for the Lord's sake, and more then this, their dependence on a natural relationship. There was no disregard for their father's needs in this matter, however, for Mark 1:20 tells us that there were hired servants; also in the boat.

Throughout Galilee He taught in the synagogues and preached the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom emphasizes the authority of the king, and this gospel was first preached before the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God, which Paul emphatically preached (Acts 20:24) after Christ had died and risen again.

The Lord's healing of every variety of sick and disease was a great testimony to the glory of His person, and Intended to draw souls to recognize the authority of His teaching. All of this proves Him, worthy to be King. Never before nor since has there been so great a concentration of miracles as in His brief ministry of three and a half years.

As well as Galilee, all Syria heard of His fame and it seems that many of those coming for healing were from Syria. Those with every type of infirmity or disease were brought to Him; not only those physically diseased, but mentally and spiritually also. Those Possessed with demons are distinguished from lunatics: they are not the same. Paralytics are also added, for even though not in pain, they were hindered from normal activity. None went away disappointed: He healed them all, in contrast to the well-known failure of modern professed "healers" to accomplish the results they would like to claim.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 4:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/matthew-4.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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