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  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly

62 – Passing the Test

1. In Chapter 4 we will see:

a.       Jesus Tempted by Satan

b.      Beginning of His Galilean Ministry

c.       Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

d.      Jesus Healing a Great Multitude

2. Jesus Tempted By Satan

a.      Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

                                                               i.      The first thing I would you notice about the story is that Jesus was led by the spirit to be tempted. If you remember in the Lord’s prayer he asks God not to lead us into temptation.

                                                             ii.      The parallel verse for this event is in Luke chapter 4, also in verse one where it says: Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil.


                                                        iii.      Some people are under the impression that the temptations we have are initiated by the devil. The devil never acts on his authority. He too is subject to God. Any power he has is power granted by God. Episode 51 of the footlight broadcast was called “know your enemy” includes an expanded discussion of who Satan is and what his power and authority is in a more importantly, what it is not.


                                                         iv.      The word used here for tempt and tempted can also be translated as tested. If you remember in Job God used Satan to test Job. Every temptation is a test allowed by God for purposes of seeing if will be loyal to God.

                                                             v.      In Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 15 it says this: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” For the temptation of Jesus to be anything like our own it must naturally mean that while he was without sin, He had the capacity to sin. In episode nine of the footlight broadcast I take a deep dive into the concept of inherited sin and original sin. I refute the idea of a “sin nature” and propose the idea that Adam’s nature, the nature of Jesus and our own nature are all the same. This is the second most popular episode of the footlight broadcast and they believe your benefit substantially from checking it out. The link to this episode is in the show notes.

                                                           vi.      The second thing I’d like you to notice is that this is the first time we see Jesus being “led by the Holy Spirit”. Remember that Jesus was fully man. The man Jesus had just received the Holy Spirit upon his baptism by John. Just like with the rest of us, we can’t be empowered by the Holy Spirit or led by the Holy Spirit until we receive the Holy Spirit. Immediately upon receiving the Holy Spirit Jesus was then “Led” and as one who would be obedient to God, followed.

                                                          vii.      The third thing I want you to notice is that no one else was present. There are only a handful of the events of Jesus’s life that don’t come from eyewitness accounts. I can immediately think of the Samaritan woman at the well. In these cases, we must assume that Jesus told the disciples what he had experienced.

b.      2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

                                                               i.      When people fast for extended periods, something I’ve never done. People report that the hunger pangs stop after a few days. The body switches over to feeling itself from its stored calories. However, once those stored calories are consumed the body will begin to metabolize muscle and at this point the hunger pangs come back. Now you can imagine that by the 40th day Jesus was at this point very hungry.

                                                             ii.      Another thing people report is that as a fast continues there are some other symptoms that manifest themselves. Irritability, lightheadedness, and a general lack of mental clarity. Some people report an initial sense of mental clarity but this dissipates further into the fast.

                                                           iii.      People also become much weaker, more easily fatigued and often have disturbed sleep.

                                                           iv.      These verses also don’t indicate that Jesus didn’t drink water.

                                                             v.      So here we have Jesus who was very hungry and likely feeling fatigued, weak and having somewhat clouded thinking. It’s my belief that God was putting Jesus into a position that would create an even more difficult test of His loyalty. When people succumb to temptation is often referred to as a “moment of weakness”. Jesus was both physically and very likely mentally weak at the very moments of His temptation.

c.        3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

                                                               i.      In the first two temptations the devil starts them with “if you are the Son of God” in which he uses one of the categories of sin and temptation, the pride of life.

                                                             ii.      There are three categories of temptation here for Jesus. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It seems to me that all sins fall into one of these three categories.

1.       For example the coveting of your neighbor’s wife or the abuse of alcohol or drugs or gluttony are lusts of the flesh.

2.       The coveting of your neighbors’ goods or of a new car or a new home is lust of the eyes. I’m struggling right now with a strong desire for new computer that is faster and more robust than the one I’m using right now. In my mind and using this broadcast as justification for the purchase. The reality is that I don’t need it. The computer I have is just fine and accomplishes everything I need it to. This is lust of the eyes.

3.       Theft, murder and lying are all the pride of life. Each of these three are the conclusion that the rules don’t apply to me and that I’m not subject to God. This is the pride of life.

                                                           iii.      The first thing the devil uses to tempt Jesus is the lust of the flesh. This seems to be the first “go-to” for the devil with most people. Especially with men. Satan uses sex and substances unrelentingly to test men’s loyalty to God. These are particularly valuable to Satan because of the damage they do to other people.

                                                           iv.      Jesus offers in all three cases the best way to respond to any of these tests. The best way to respond is with Scripture.

                                                             v.      How can you know which scripture to use if you don’t know Scripture. Psalm 119 verses 9-11 say this: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

                                                           vi.      This is what Jesus had done. He had hidden the word of God in his heart so that when Satan came with the temptation he was ready with the answer. We need to remember that we are in a spiritual battle and the sword we are to be carrying is the word of God. Not knowing Scripture is the same as walking into battle with a hostile enemy unarmed and defenseless. Ensure for your own sake that you are hiding the word of God in your heart. Joshua chapter 1 and verse eight says this: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you[c] shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

                                                          vii.      It’s Dueteronomy 8:3 that says: So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

d.      5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

                                                               i.      Satan here quotes Psalm 91:11-12. Make no mistake, Satan knows the Bible and will often use it as a weapon against you. Not only do you need to know the Scripture, you need to know the context so that you will see when he is taking it out of context to mislead you.

7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not [a]tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

                                                             ii.      Here we have the pride of life which also appears in the first temptation with the “If you are the son of God”. Satan challenges Jesus to demonstrate his authority and to confirm his special position in relationship to God the father.

                                                           iii.      In asking him to throw himself off of the temple he asks Jesus to demonstrate that the rules don’t apply to him. Anyone else in throwing himself off the temple would surely die or be injured in the extreme. Satan tempts Jesus to demonstrate his “specialness”, to take pride in it.

                                                           iv.      Again Jesus responds with Scripture, this time from Deuteronomy 6:16.

e.       8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

                                                               i.      Up until the point of the crucifixion of Jesus, Satan had dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth. Sin, corruption and violence were the things that Kings used to stay in power. In many places in the world today these are the same methods employed. In China, and Russia and North Korea for example. These kings and kingdoms were under the influence and control of Satan. Some still are.

                                                             ii.      We will see in the next section of this chapter Jesus coming to announce a new kingdom with a new King. Those subject to the new King and obedient to him no longer have their lives marked by sin, by corruption or by violence.

                                                           iii.      The kingdom of God began at the cross and continues its march forward. The kingdoms before this are always limited to a geographic area where its rulers could exercise control. The kingdom of God is not limited geographically in the subjects of this kingdom are obedient to the king out of love for him and out of fear of him. Fearing the Lord is healthy because it is fearing justice. People who were fearing earthly kings were often fearing injustice. A fear of justice is healthy and rational.

f.        10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

                                                               i.      Jesus here quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. Most of our English translations say “and him only you shall serve” but the original Hebrew in the Septuagint here use the word “fear”.

                                                             ii.      One of the devil’s best tools is FOMO. The fear of missing out is a powerful motivator for people to succumb to temptation.

                                                           iii.      I believe Jesus is indicating here that he has no fear of losing the kingdoms of the earth. He knows already that they will be given to him by his father in heaven.

                                                           iv.      Jesus knew that in his obedience God had something better for him. One of the lessons we should take from this is that whenever we feel like when we are tempted to be disobedient to God is because we have lost confidence that being obedient to God is better for us. We fear that if we don’t take matters into our own hands, things aren’t going to work out.

3. Beginning of His Galilean Ministry

a.       Jesus, having passed the test of loyalty to God and being filled with the Holy Spirit can now begin his earthly ministry. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and demonstrating loyalty to God are prerequisites for effective ministry.

b.       Many Christians upon conversion are filled with the Holy Spirit, and being loyal to God as a result begin ministries that sometimes grow very rapidly. God blesses these ministries. However, we also see a point at which many begin to take matters into their own hands. We see this with sexuality, alcohol and drugs, financial impropriety, and other types of abuse of the position and authority given to these people. In each of these cases, that leader suspended their loyalty to God and took matters into their own hands.

c.       12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 

                                                               i.      We don’t know why it was the event of John’s imprisonment that caused Jesus to depart to Galilee. I will offer my own speculation here, and again it is only my own speculation. I believe that Jesus did not want to bring about an immediate conflict with the Romans or with temple leadership. I believe that he wanted his ministry to grow and become a recognized thing throughout Israel before this inevitable clash of kingdoms would happen. I believe it was important that it not just be some itinerant preacher who was relatively unknown but rather that there would be evidence that something unique in history was happening before the crucifixion that resulted from his challenges to Jewish and Roman authority.

d.      13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

e.       15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles:16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of deathLight has dawned.”

f.        17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

g.       Jesus went exactly to where it had been prophesied by Isaiah that he would go and showed that the great light promised was that of the coming kingdom.

4. Four Fishermen Called as Disciples

a.      18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

                                                               i.      Here we have two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew as well as James and John. Fishermen by profession, they would have had all the tools of fishermen at hand. Nets, boats, some kind of containers for storing and transporting fish as well as potentially processing those fish. Remember that there was no refrigeration and so it would’ve been important, especially in the hot climate that the fish be transported immediately to market. Whether processed by the fishermen or by the fish sellers, I don’t know. I do know that if fish isn’t processed shortly after catching, it will ruin the meat. Furthermore, because of this fish had to be caught freshly every day. There was no such thing as a big catch and then storing the fish for days or weeks. They didn’t have any ice machines.

                                                             ii.      Because of this the investment in equipment for catching, transporting and potentially processing fish was substantial. Staying on top of maintenance and keeping the equipment in good working order was paramount. This is why we see the sons of Zebedee mending their nets.

                                                           iii.      Jesus asks them to drop everything and come with him. Many people who work in various trades have significant investments in their tools. Auto mechanics, people who work in carpentry or construction have significant amounts of money tied up in their tools. My friend Scott who is part of my men’s group at church is a welder and metal fabricator. He has an entire shop building full of specialized and very expensive tools.

                                                           iv.      Imagine for a moment how difficult it would be to just walk away from your life’s work and your life’s investment to follow some guy who had just shown up on the scene.

                                                             v.      There was also the added dynamic with James and John of this being a family business and abandoning their father to pursue this new guru. Imagine how scandalous this would’ve been to the entire family. It would be the equivalent today of someone going off to join a commune or a cult movement like Jonestown or the Branch Davidians.

                                                           vi.      Something about Jesus was extraordinary enough and magnetic enough to cause this reaction. Jesus had charisma. It’s interesting to me that the root word of charisma is Charis a Greek word meaning gift or grace. The gifts of the spirit are referred to as charismata. You’ve probably heard of what is called a charismatic church or ministry. These are churches were manifestations of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts are encouraged.

                                                          vii.      I believe that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit produces a charisma in the Christian that attracts people to them. It was not doctrinal correctness or biblical knowledge that attracted people to Jesus. It was the presence of God through the indwelling of the spirit.

                                                        viii.      There are many pastors and church leaders today who have charisma, but this is charisma of a different kind. This is charisma based on their good looks, their oratory skills, even their comedic ability or skill in personal interactions. What we see in these cases is often a cult of personality where the people are drawn to the pastor or to the ministry more than they are drawn to Jesus. Many of these leaders become the object of worship for their congregations, at least in a practical sense. This is not to say that some of these leaders aren’t also filled with the Holy Spirit, some certainly are. We also know that many are not. One of the ways I think you can tell is by the priorities of the organization. I’d say it this way, if your church has a state-of-the-art basketball court (and I know of one in our area that does) and there are hungry people in your community that might be an indicator of whether the heart of the leadership is on track.

5. Jesus Healing a Great Multitude

a.      23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

                                                               i.      Now we see Jesus teaching and preaching the coming kingdom and using miraculous healings to demonstrate that he spoke with authority from God.

                                                             ii.      As I said earlier, I believe it was important to have an established movement before clashes with the Jewish leadership began. It was also important to establish that this was a different kind of movement. There had been false messiahs and false prophets misleading people before. These movements never had any miraculous evidences and ultimately they all failed these would’ve been cult of personality as I’ve just described. It was important to establish to the skeptics that this was something different.

                                                           iii.      A healing ministry led to rapid growth since each person who was healed would have had a constellation of family and friends who knew of their maladies and could therefore bear witness to the healing. It seems almost certain that when your family member who had been blind or paralyzed was healed that this would be shared with friends and neighbors and especially others who were afflicted in the same way.

                                                           iv.      You can see how the healing ministry was a vehicle for spreading the fame of Jesus as well as demonstrating the power of God in him and God’s compassionate heart for the afflicted.

                                                             v.      Ultimately it was a precursor to the ultimate healing of our sinfulness.



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