Welcome to week 4 of our Journey Through the Gospel of Matthew sermon series and Bible study.
The temptation of Christ….
Chapter 4 of Matthew’s Gospel begins with Jesus being led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan.
The first question often raised is this: Does Satan still have a place in our thinking or is this thinking too easily abused in literal-ism that uses the excuse ‘the devil made me do it!” therefore escaping from personal responsibility, and also leading to the branding of our opponents as tools of the devil?
Matthew certainly thought so!
The language and imagery of Satan plays an important theological role for Matthew, and does so for us as well. It calls us to acknowledge that there is evil greater than any individual. But here it also helps us understand Jesus as the Son of God.
Matthew presents Jesus as the Son of God, who works many miracles during his ministry which is about to begin. But he also presents the human side of Jesus (the temptations) in which he shares the weakness of our human situation (Phil 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:5-18). Matthew, through the very real human temptations Jesus faced, helps us understand that having a trusting relationship with God does not mean giving up our authentic human life, but rather to embrace our human condition while seeking the divine.
Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee…
For Matthew the kingdom of God wasn’t some new ideal or principle, but was rather revealed and embodied in the life and ministry of Jesus. It’s the reason Matthew’s language about ‘kingship’ is so important. As Jesus begins his ministry, his first proclamation is this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17). This will be a new kingdom, set apart and against the human kingdoms. And there will be a new king, one which will be set apart and against worldly kings.
Jesus Calls The First Disciples….
How do people become followers of Christ?
Jesus arrives on the scene, and in the lives of those he’s calling, quite abruptly, both in Matthew’s Gospel and many times in our own stories of being called.
It’s interesting that Matthew doesn’t commit the disciples to a response of “Where are you going?” to Jesus’ calling of “Follow me.”
Isn’t that one of the first questions you’d ask someone who is calling you to follow them?
But not these first disciples who are embodying the level of humility and obedience needed to be a true disciple. They don’t finish their day, or even put away their nets or other tools, but rather they ‘immediately’ drop everything and follow Christ….and they didn’t even know who he was. Perhaps there’d been some talk of this Jesus before, but it’s not evident in our Scripture.
Knowing all we know about Jesus through Scripture, would we drop everything to follow? Have we? Or are we simply just the same old sinners we’ve always been with a bit more Biblical knowledge?
Jesus’ call doesn’t fill an obvious void or meet an obvious need in the lives of the disciples, but, like the call of prophets in the Old Testament, it is intrusive and disruptive, calling them away from work and even family.
This weeks Reading: Matthew Chapter 4 (25 verses)
Prayer for the Week:
God of light and love, we come this morning with eyes stinging from the brightness of your glory. We have become so accustomed to the darkness, that your radiant light sometimes overwhelms us. Open our eyes and our hearts to receive your message of comfort and peace and security, that we may find rest in your loving, protective presence. Open our spirits to follow the path you put before us, that we may lead lives committed to your Way. Amen.
God of light and love, I come this morning with eyes stinging from the brightness of your glory. I have become so accustomed to the darkness, that your radiant light sometimes overwhelms me. Open my eyes and my heart to receive your message of comfort and peace and security, that I may find rest in your loving, protective presence. Open my spirit to follow the path you put before me, that I may lead a life committed to your Way. Amen.
Questions for Reflection
- How did you first become a believer?
- Who initiates discipleship? The believer, or Christ? How so?
- Who do you know or who would you seek if you were looking for disciples?
- Now that Jesus has called you, how are you living out that calling? (Would anyone even know you’re a disciple of Christ?)
These questions can be used for individual reflection or small groups. We appreciate the opportunity to share these resources with all of you we’re connected to throughout the world. We pray these resources are a blessing to you and yours.
Praying for You
The community, both local and global, of Bethel Church believes in the power of prayer. Throughout Scripture, Jesus and countless others turn to their life of intentional prayer as a source for understanding God’s redemptive work in their individual lives, as well as all of creation.
Therefore, we believe a representative nature of this ongoing, intentional life of prayer, is to pray for one another.
So how might we be praying for you this week?
Let us know in the form below. We look forward to being a vessel of God’s grace to you as we lift you up in prayer.