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.
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.