Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Matthew Chapter 4

Having accepted His mission, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he fasts for 40 days and nights. Usually when we think of preparing for a mission or a journey or an arduous task, we imagine having a feast or a big meal to give us strength for it, yet this mission is different. Jesus does not gain strength through food but through prayer and sacrifice. It is not physical strength He will need so much as spiritual strength and He is spiritually strong when the devil comes to Him to tempt Him. 

First the devil tempts Him with physical nourishment and sustenance and physically He certainly was hungry, but His soul was full and He rebukes the devil that nourishing the soul is far more important than sustaining the body. Then the devil tempts Jesus to test God's love for Him and Jesus rebukes him that faith and charity does not test God. So the devil tempts Jesus to abandon God's plan for the power and glory the world can give Him but Jesus rebukes him with the humility and obedience of the 1st Commandment. Jesus undergoes temptation because we undergo temptation and He demonstrates how to combat temptation, through humility, faith, obedience, charity and the Word of God. He does not engage the devil with arguments. He does not get into a debate with him. He never asks how far he could go before it would be a sin. He rebukes the devil. He shuts him down completely, immediately and permanently. And the devil leaves him. The devil does not like defeat and will not persist in a battle he knows he will not win. 

I do always wonder just how the angels ministered to Him afterwards. I mean, what could they tell Jesus that He didn't already know? What did he need that they provided? 

When John is arrested and no longer able to preach to the people, Jesus takes up where he left off preaching repentance but Jesus does so not in the wilderness and the dessert but in Capernaum by the sea, among fishermen and common folk. And it is from these common, every day people that Jesus calls His first disciples - Peter and Andrew, James and John - all of whom immediately leave what they are doing and follow Jesus. It is interesting Jesus first calls two pairs of brothers. He does not leave one to provide for the family and he must know it could cause favoritism and cliques among his disciples. Perhaps the brothers were more at ease going together rather than alone? Or maybe faith-filled Apostles come from faith-filled families? 

Jesus gains popularity quite quickly and all throughout Syria as he preaches and cures "every disease and every infirmity" among the people. Not surprising when you cure every ailment, great crowds begin to follow Him. The baton has been passed from John to Jesus. John has decreased and Jesus has increased. 

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