In Matthew 4, 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.
Matthew 5 begins what we know as the Sermon on the Mount, and verses 3-12 contain what we refer to as the Beatitudes. The translation of the word “blessed” in these verses is confusing to some, as it varies from “happy” to “fortunate.” “Fortunate” is closer to the real meaning here (someone who is “mourning,” for example, could hardly be described as “happy”), and it relates more to a state of being in a relationship with God that results from His approval. None of the qualities in these statements refer to a condition that people are born with, inherit, or come by naturally. Nor are they intended as prescriptions for behavior, some of which the unconverted world at large can simply adopt for the good of mankind.
These are traits of character and attitude that reflect the qualities that Christians must have. But they are not, as some have suggested, lofty goals – all of which no one person could possibly achieve. In each one, Jesus says “Blessed are.. ,” indicating that there are people who have these qualities, and that we can ourselves be the people that he describes – that we as Christians, in fact, must be those people. Yet, we must understand that while having these qualities is what defines us as His people, our place in His kingdom is not something we earn by doing so. It is, in fact, our full understanding of that fact which enables us to have those qualities in the first place.
Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke
Matt 1, Matt 2, Matt 3, Matt 4, Matt 5
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.