Today I read Matthew, chapter 4, in my NIV Life Application Study Bible, which describes Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert as well as the beginning of Jesus’ ministries in Galilee.
Matthew 4:1-11 is all about Satan tempting Jesus, who had been fasting in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus was tired and hungry, and Satan tempts Jesus to use his divine powers and turn stones into bread. Jesus says no, that God will sustain him. Then Satan tempts Jesus to prove who he is by jumping from the highest point in the temple. Satan said if Jesus really is the Son of God, he won't be hurt. God will save him. Jesus says no, that we are not to put God to the test. Satan’s final temptation was telling Jesus that if Jesus would only follow him, Satan would make him rich and give him land. Jesus again says no, that we are to worship only God.
Matthew 4:12-22 describes Jesus calling his first disciples, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew, and two more brothers, James and John, to follow him. All four men had known Jesus previously from his time in Galilee. They had heard him preach and knew who he was and what he wanted. They followed immediately.
The end of this chapter, Matthew 4:23-25 describes Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. He taught, he preached to, and he healed the people who came to see him—some of whom came from very far away.
Lots of little things struck me in this chapter. First of all, Satan didn’t come to Jesus when he was well and well fed and strong. Satan came to Jesus when he was tired and weak and hungry—that’s when he tempted Jesus. That struck a chord in me. Of course Satan would choose that time. It reminded me that I have to be strong even when I feel as though I can’t be—God is with me then too.
Another thing that resonated with me was the way that Satan quoted Scripture during his attempts to tempt Jesus. I didn’t include that in my summary above, but Satan knows his Old Testament, and he used part of it in a way to try to convince Jesus that giving in to the temptation would actually be following God’s word in the Bible. I’ve definitely dealt with this in my own life: I’ve known people, and heard people in the public eye, quote the Bible to suit their purposes. They twist Scripture, or they take it out of context to support what they want you to believe or to do. It makes me doubly glad that I’m reading the Bible now for myself.
And finally, the other thing that struck me was the way the first four disciples dropped what they were doing—their daily jobs—to follow Jesus. They didn’t hem haw around. They just followed. Imagine that: leaving your job to follow Christ because he asked you too, putting all your faith in him like that. I’m trying to follow him in my daily life, but I question every single day if I’m doing it right.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Matt. 4:18-20).