In verse 1, Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God never tempts anyone to do wrong (James 1:13), but He has sometimes used situations to test someone’s faithfulness and character (see Hebrews 11:17). This testing had a purpose from the devil’s perspective (to derail God’s plan for the redemption of man, by preventing Jesus from being without sin). The purpose from the perspective of God’s plan was that by having suffered from temptation himself (Hebrews 2:18), he understands how temptation affects us, and He is strengthened as our savior. It also reinforces for us the value of knowing God’s word.
Hungry from fasting forty days, which compares to the 40 years of the testing of the people of Israel in the wilderness, the ability to use His power to feed himself in verse 3 would be a substantial temptation. Jesus quotes the latter part of Deuteronomy 8:3 in verse 4 as an answer to the devil. The devil’s quotation of Psalm 91:11-13 in the second temptation of verses 5-6 is a deliberate misuse of the scripture – God does not encourage people to place themselves in needless danger. The pinnacle of the Temple would likely be the southeast corner – some 300 feet above the Kidron Valley. Such a feat would have been a great shortcut to achieve fame and attract people to Him, but would subvert God’s plan. Jesus then answers in verse 7 by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. The last temptation in verse 8 offers yet another opportunity to reign as king by nothing short of the worst kind of idolatry and betrayal of God; and is answered by a quote from Deuteronomy 6:13.
Then, returning to Galilee to avoid the area where John the Baptist was arrested (verse 12), in verses 13-16, he fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. Reinforcing John the Baptist’s message, Jesus preaches for the people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This simply refers to the kingdom as a new period of the reign of God in people’s hearts and in their lives, shortly to come. The calling of His disciples in verses 18-22 at first reading makes one think that these men dropped everything all of a sudden to follow a complete stranger. But John 1:35-42 demonstrates a prior relationship. Now He was calling them to be apostles. Verses 23-25 detail the great following that He was accumulating, and the wonders such as healing the sick that He began doing.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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