Matthew 4: The Kingdom Arrives

In the last chapter, we saw John preach about a kingdom that was coming.  Now with Jesus’ arrival that message changes slightly:

“Repent!” he would say.  “The kingdom of heaven is arriving.” (4:17)

Matthew then summarizes the message Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee as “the good news of the kingdom” (4:23).

We are still trying to determine what exactly this “kingdom” is but one thing we can know for sure is that Jesus is central to it.  As Jesus comes, so too does the kingdom.  Maybe at this point we can tentatively say that the kingdom is what one experiences when Jesus comes into one’s life.

"Follow Me, Satan (Temptation of Jesus Christ)" by Ilya Repin

I have always thought the way Satan decides to phrase his temptations is interesting, given what had just happened at the end of Matthew 3.  There we saw God’s Spirit alight on Jesus and a voice (presumably God’s) say,

This is my son, my beloved one,” said the voice.  “I am delighted with him.” (3:17)

Many others have noted that these three sentiments are three of the most basic affirmations a human needs to hear and be sure of in his life:

  • This is my son” — I claim you.  You are mine.  You belong to me, and I am glad to make that known.
  • My beloved one” — I love you.  I have deep affection and concern for you.  My emotions about you are positive.
  • I am delighted with him” — I am proud of you.  I approve of you.  I see what you do and it makes me happy.

It is interesting to me that Satan decides to attack Jesus at this most basic level: “If you really are God’s son . . .” (4:3, 6).  It is as if Satan is saying, “I know what you just heard, but are you sure?”  Maybe you need to test this.  Let’s put this to a test.  Make some bread.  Take a jump.

How often are our doubts and failures attached at a deep, even unconscious level to an uncertainty of divine acceptance, love and belonging?

Jesus’ path to victory is also instructive.  In the midst of this attack intended to produce doubt, Jesus hangs on to God’s words.  For Jesus the answer to the doubt and accusations of Satan was found in what God had already said.

We can learn from Jesus’ commitment to Scripture.

What grabbed your eye in this chapter?

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Categories: Matthew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Matthew 4: The Kingdom Arrives

  1. one thing we can notice when Jesus was tempted by the devil is this

    “If you really are God’s son…..”

    the word beloved was removed.

    could it be that knowing you are loved makes a lasting impact to your life?

    I have no clue, as I did not grew up with a physical father beside me.
    I never heard the word “i love you son”

    but rest assured, there is really something about love and knowing you are love
    that causes
    a boyfriend to come early/on time on dates
    a girlfriend to clean the house because boyfriend is coming
    a father choosing to die by the sword than see his son die of hunger
    a son choosing to give his kidney to his father or brother
    and we were just describing the world

    how much more God, who is love himself.

    If God cease to Love us, He ceases to be God. God is love

    another great post.

    – grace and peace
    – in the absence of love, is fear

  2. Eddy Efaw

    Great post! Loved the follow up by savedbygrace too! I heard once that God is fulfilling two basic needs with his proclamation of “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” those needs are to be known and to be loved. I see these as answers to two basic fears of mankind: Fear of the unknown and the fear of not belonging. God says, I know who this man is. He is my son. God says I am pleased with him. I love him. He belongs to me and with me. God says these same things to each of us.

  3. Georgia Stafford

    Once a year I go on a weekend trip with some of dearest girlfriends from church. You should see the preparation that takes place prior to my departure! Schedules are printed and posted on the refrigerator, the kitchen is stocked with supplies, all laundry, uniforms, and church clothes are cleaned and organized for each family member. Of course, my sweet family always manages to do just fine without me. They eat out, wear whatever they want to, and actually get to by popcorn and candy at the movie. 🙂

    Every time I read verses 20 and 22, I am so struck by the humility these men must have had to leave their lives and follow Christ. They did not think of themselves as irreplaceable in the daily lives of their families or businesses. They saw themselves as tools to be used by Christ. My prayer is that I can be humble enough to truly give up my desire to handle all the details of daily life and allow Jesus to use me for His purpose. I’m not so important!

    • Georgia: Such an interesting response!

      I have often struggled with the call of Christ that we will come to in a few chapters where it is clear that Jesus intends for us to place him even beyond family. In our family-centered culture that seems blasphemous. Added to that I grew up seeing more than a few ministers who did exactly that; their kids were often anything but faithful and were filled with resentment of their fathers, religion, and God. I have to wonder if these men were doing this for God or actually for themselves.

      But then your response is so realistic and humble and true. There is a fine balance between shirking responsibility and actually thinking too highly of oneself to ever be part from family.

      And I thought my wife was the only one who wouldn’t let us have popcorn or candy at the movies!

  4. Melanie Semore

    Georgia, I love what you said! I noticed those same verses, particularly the fact that those who were called just got up and went–no making lists if pros and cons, no weighing the options, no seeking advice. They followed Jesus and never looked back. I think I look back all the time, not out of regret but more nearly out of feelings of inadequacy or failure. “I believe; help my unbelief!”

  5. Pingback: Jesus Faces Temptation in the Desert « The Daily Bible Plan

  6. Pingback: Third Temptation of Jesus | Scriptura

  7. “God’s kingdom was his theme – that beginning right now they were under God’s government, a good government!”

    Once again Peterson says it so clearly. Following Jesus even affects and takes over our politics. Republican, Democrat, Socialism, Libertarianism, Tea Party . . . No! Our leader is God. Our platform is composed of the teachings of Jesus. Our hope is the Resurrection, not a re-election.

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