Matthew 4-6

The Talk and Walk of a Disciple

In Chapter 4 we read that after Jesus was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit He was led into the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and was tempted by the devil. The devil tempted Jesus in three areas; basic needs, pride that would put Him in control and test God, and wealth and power. It is interesting that at first the devil is called the “tempter.” The Greek word for tempter means to temp or to prove by solicitation to sin. The tempter wanted to see just how strong Jesus really was especially in time of need and discomfort. From time to time the tempter will do the same to us looking for a weakness. James 1 contains good counsel when tempted.

The next time Jesus is tempted by the devil. The word for devil means one who divides so he can accuse. To accomplish this he uses deception and lies. In this case his temptation is meant to draw Jesus away from God’s will and get him to sin against the Father’s instructions so he can bring an accusation against Jesus.  This is what Balaam did to entice Israel to sin. The same is true for the third temptation. The devil is looking to entice with the things of the world so he can bring an accusation before God. His promise will be appealing but all he will deliver is condemnation.  Jesus didn’t fall for it but there is a good chance that he has done the same to us and we did fall for his deception. If that is the case then we need to remember that his goal is to divide and separate us from God with guilt and shame. Don’t put your faith in the devil’s condemnation and accusation. Instead rest on Romans 8:31-39.

Following the temptation of Jesus He received word that John the Baptist has been put into prison. It is at this time that Jesus starts His public ministry and calls His first disciples, Simon Peter and Andrew. These men were disciples of John the Baptist and it is likely that James and John were as well. Multitudes start to gather to Him so he gathers His disciples to Him and begins to teach them in Matthew 5. This teaching is called the Sermon on the Mount.

Starting with verse 3 of Chapter 5 through verse 12 Jesus describes the characteristics of a true servant of God which He will contrast with the current religious rulers starting in verse 13. The Greek word for tasteless salt in verse 13 is translated “became fools” in Romans 1:22. What Jesus is saying is that the teaching and wisdom of the religious rulers that should bring savor, healing, and preservation was not only foolishness but worthless. In verses 14&15 Jesus is saying that their actions should match their teaching. Both teaching and actions are to glorify God and not the teacher or leader. Of course what Jesus is teaching will be in direct conflict with what the religious rulers were teaching, which was a works based religion. He makes it clear that He is not doing away with the commandments and the Law but He is fulfilling them.  The proper understanding of the commands and the Law is to show us we are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sins. It is Jesus that we need and who we are to observe and follow.  In verse 20 He makes it clear that if one is to be saved by works that person must be perfect. In the balance of the chapter He gives God’s perfect standard for perfection. At least 6 times the contrasts begin with the words, “you have heard it said…” and then Jesus follows with, “but I say to you…” describing what must be done to truly obtain righteousness by perfection. The last verse makes it clear that if one is to be righteous before God by one’s works they must be as perfect as God and clearly the religious rulers were not. Their teaching was as worthless as tasteless salt.

Chapter 6 continues to deal with perfection. Here we see what the religious rulers were doing which on the surface were good things. But the perfect standard of God deals with the motive behind the action which is often below the surface and unseen. Hypocrisy and anxiousness are a result of seeking the approval of people rather than God. In Chapter 6:33 Jesus sets the priority of a disciple on how to be a light to the world.  

In the actions of the religious rulers described thus far we can see that they fell for the temptation of the devil. Though they are to represent God to the people Jesus is pointing out that they have been separated from God by the devil’s deceptions. It is important that we listen to Jesus and keep Matthew 5:3-12 in view.

Pastor Dave

Matthew 4-6