Matthew 3-4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 5, 2006

Matthew 3

:1-12 John’s ministry

Matthew now zooms forward in time about thirty years.

:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

JohnIoannes – “Yahweh is gracious”

Baptist – he baptized people, he dunked them in the river.

It’s interesting that Matthew mentions the Nazarite (Mat. 2:23) and then talks about one who seems to have been a Nazarite, John the Baptist (Luke 1:15).

wilderness of Judea – this was the wastelands on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

:2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

Repent – turn around, turn from your sins. “Get ready to meet God”

:3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.'"

Matthew quotes from Is. 40:3

In the ancient cultures, highway workers would be sent ahead of the king’s traveling entourage to make sure the roads were smooth for the king. John’s ministry was to prepare people’s hearts for the coming King.

:4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

He seemed to play the part of a wild man. He also just happened to be dressing similarly to the prophet Elijah (2King 1:8).

locusts – this was “kosher”, legal for a good Jew to eat.

(Lev 11:22 NKJV) 'These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.

:5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him

:6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

The people were responding to John’s ministry.

Baptism was a ritual practiced in Judaism by those who were Gentiles converting to Judaism. They would also have to be circumcised as well.

John’s baptism wasn’t into Judaism, the people he baptized were already Jews. His baptism was in a sense a statement that the people were adopting something new, they were moving away from their sins toward righteousness.

:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Pharisees – the strictest sect within Judaism. They were the “orthodox” believers. They held strictly to the Law. They believed in miracles. They believed in the work of the Holy Spirit. They believed in angels and the resurrection from the dead. They believed that the entire Old Testament was the Word of God. They weren’t a lot unlike us. Except that for the most part they rejected Jesus. They were religious on the outside, but not on the inside.

Sadduccees – These were the liberals among Judaism. The priests were also mainly made up of Sadduccees. They only believed the first five books (the Torah) to be inspired. They didn’t believe in miracles, angels, or the resurrection – that’s why they were “sad-you-see” …J

John’s message: This is not a way to make friends.

:8 "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,


Talk is cheap

Some people are real good at convincing you with their words. They tell you they’ve changed, and we often believe them.
The Bible tells us that repentance is more than words or emotions – repentance involves action.
Paul had rebuked the Corinthian church for some problems they had. They responded to Paul’s letter with “repentance”
(2 Cor 7:8-11 NKJV) For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. {9} Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. {10} For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. {11} For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
When someone professes to follow Jesus, or they tell you they are sorry for their actions, that’s good. But it is proper to tell them that they need to follow through and bring forth the “fruits” of repentance.

:9 "and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

It was a common teaching among the Jews of that day to feel that because of their relation to Abraham as his descendants, they shared in some benefits – their prayers were heard, God would help them in war, their sins were forgiven, and they would have eternal salvation.

The people would be surprised that both John and Jesus would be preaching that people needed to repent from their sins and that they couldn’t count on their ancestors to save them.

:10 "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Judgment is coming.

:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Baptism is a sort of way to “identify” with something. It was a way of saying that you were joining.

sandals … - John knows that the coming Messiah is far greater than he is.

It would seem from the other accounts that John doesn’t know who the Messiah is, not yet.

the Holy Spirit and fire

It would seem these are two different things.

The Holy Spirit would be poured out on the day of Pentecost.
The fire would be the judgment when Jesus returns.

:12 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

winnowing fan – used to separate the wheat kernels from the chaff. More like a shovel, the wheat would be tossed into the air at the threshing floor, where the wind would blow the chaff away and the kernels would drop to the floor.

Jesus is separating those who are really followers of God from those who just say they are.

Keep in mind – this is Jesus’ job, not mine. Be careful about how you judge others (Mat. 7:1; Rom. 14:4)

:13-17 Jesus’ Baptism

:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

From Luke’s account, we believe that Jesus and John were cousins.

:14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?"

John realizes who is standing before him.

:15 But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him.

Jesus didn’t have any sins to repent from.

His baptism was to set an example for others to follow.

:16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

Just as Jesus’ baptism in water was an example for us to follow, His baptism in the Holy Spirit was an example for us as well.

Before we try to step out and serve God, we need the power of His Holy Spirit.

:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

The Spirit of God descending upon Jesus and the voice from heaven made it clear who this was. Jesus was God’s Son.

Notice all three parts of the Trinity.

The Son is being baptized.

The Holy Spirit descends.

The Father Speaks.

Matthew 4

:1-11 Jesus’ Temptation

:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

led upanago – to lead up, to lead or bring into a higher place

to be temptedpeirazo – to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, to try or test one’s faith by enticement to sin; to solicit to sin

I find it instructive that the Holy Spirit, who has just baptized Jesus, now leads Jesus to a place where He will face a temptation by Satan.

God does not tempt us:

(James 1:13 NKJV) Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

But God will allow us to face times of testing, and that testing may involve a temptation from Satan.

God’s purpose in allowing us to face a time of testing is not to have us give in to the temptation, God’s desire is to teach us how to resist the devil and flee temptation.

When you face a temptation, don’t tell yourself that the reason the temptation is there is because God must want you to do this thing. God wants you to learn to resist temptation.

A fighter doesn’t train with another fighter in order to stand there and get beaten up, but in order to learn to fight.

Satan had a purpose during this temptation – if he could get Jesus to sin, then God’s plan for Jesus to be a sinless sacrifice would be stopped.

God had a purpose during this temptation – to show that Jesus was indeed a sinless sacrifice. And to also let us know that Jesus knows what it’s like when we’re tempted.

(Heb 4:15-16 NKJV) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

One last note: Jesus has been baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, and tempted.

Don’t be surprised when you greatest spiritual highs are followed by a time of tempting. It happened to Jesus, it can happen to you.

:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

fasting – we usually think of fasting as a tool for the believer to use to draw closer to God. Fasting involves the discipline of denying yourself something. A fast may involve not eating certain foods (Daniel 10:3), or not eating any food (such as here).

The ironic thing is that Jesus is following a discipline that helps a person grow closer to God, and He will find himself confronted by the devil, bringing a temptation that directly comes from his fasting, from his lack of food.

Don’t be surprised when you pursue godly disciplines and find opposition from Satan.

They say that when a person fasts for a long period of time, their hunger goes away. When the hunger comes back, they are on the verge of death.

:3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."


A little boy always went next door to play even though his mom had warned him against doing so. This worried the mom so badly that she asked him why he was so disobedient. He replied that Satan tempted him so bad and he did not know what to do. The mom then advised him to say ‘get thee behind me Satan’ whenever he was tempted. She then built a fence around the house. This worked for a week, then one sunny afternoon the mom looked over the window and there was her son playing on the neighbor’s lawn having cut a hole in the fence. “John”, she yelled, “Come here!” She then said “did I not tell you to say ‘get thee behind me Satan’ whenever he tempted you?” “Yes”, the boy replied, “I said, ‘get thee behind me Satan’, then he went behind me and pushed me through the hole in the fence.”

It seems that Satan is always there to push us through the hole in the fence…

:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

wordrhema – though this word can be used to describe the subject matter of a speech; it seems that the emphasis is on the actual words that are spoken, the speaking of words, the words uttered by the living voice.

It’s not just carrying your Bible around that’s important. It’s understanding your Bible and using your Bible. It’s learning the principles and learning to “speak” them, to use them in your life.

This wasn’t just any Scripture that Jesus quoted, it was an appropriate Scripture.

The passage is talking about the time when Israel was wandering in the wilderness, just as Jesus was in the wilderness.

(Deu 8:3 NKJV) "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
The principle lesson of the verse was to remind Israel that more than actual food, they needed to learn to depend upon what God would give them.
Jesus had learned this principle from the Scriptures and was willing to trust God to provide bread when He was ready to.
The issue is not whether or not it’s wrong to eat. It’s not whether or not it’s wrong to meet your needs.

The issue Jesus isolates in the temptation is about who you go to in order to have your needs met.


Submitting my needs to God

Dr. Willard Harley in his book entitled His Needs, Her Needs points out the priorities of the sexes in the order of importance:
A man desires:
1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration of his wife
A woman desires:
1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Honesty and Openness
4. Financial Support
5. Family Commitment
Do you relate to any of these things? Does any of it ring true?
If these are the top “needs” as men and women see it, the issue is not whether or not you get these needs met, the question is how do you meet those needs. The question is who you look to in order to meet those needs.

A man may indeed be looking for sexual fulfillment – but who does he look to in order to have that need met? Does he look to himself? Does he look to his wife or girlfriend? Or does he first come to God to ask for help?

A woman may be looking for affection. But where does she expect it to come from?

It’s not that we don’t have a part in having any of these needs met in our lives, but the lesson goes to the heart, the motivation, who you are counting on to meet those needs.
If you are counting on yourself or on another person to meet those needs, you’re heading in the wrong direction.
God wants us to learn to look to Him FIRST for these things. He may turn around and ask us to do something to see that need met, but we need to seek Him first.

(Mat 6:31-33 NKJV) "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' {32} "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33} "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

:5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,

The pinnacle of the temple would have been about 600 feet above the valley floor below it. It would have been a pretty impressive trick and might have even gotten some people to follow Him.

:6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

As the temptations continue, Satan tries to trip Jesus up by quoting Scripture himself:

(Psa 91:11-12 NKJV) For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. {12} In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Satan doesn’t quote the entire passage. He leaves out a verse.

:7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

Jesus is quoting Deut. 6:16

(Deu 6:16 NKJV) "You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah.

This is a reference to a situation in Exodus 17, again a time when Israel was wandering in the wilderness. The people “tempted” or “tested” God’s patience. Their situation had to do with water, not about flying, but Jesus saw a principle at work.
Jesus recognized this temptation by Satan as a “testing” of God’s patience. Jesus applied the principle of God’s Word to His temptation.
Some people say you can make the Bible say anything you want to – and in a way you can – unless you keep the entire Bible in mind.

:8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

:9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."

Satan wasn’t making an empty offer. He is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). It was his to offer.


There once was a lawyer who lived her whole life without ever taking advantage of any of the people she worked for. In fact, she made sure that every case she took resulted in a win-win situation. One day while walking down the street she was tragically hit by a bus and she died. Her soul arrived up in heaven where she was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter himself. “Welcome to Heaven,” said St. Peter. “Before you get settled in though it seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we’ve never once had a lawyer make it this far and we’re not really sure what to do with you.” “No problem, just let me in.” said the lawyer. “Well, I’d like to, but I have higher orders. What we’re going to do is let you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can choose whichever one you want to spend an eternity in.” “Actually, I think I’ve made up my mind...I prefer to stay in Heaven.” “Sorry, we have rules.....” And with that St. Peter put the lawyer in an elevator and it went down-down- down to Hell. The doors opened and the lawyer found herself stepping out onto the putting green of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country club and standing in front of her were all her friends and fellow lawyers that she had worked with and they were dressed in evening gowns and cheering for her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they talked about old times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night went to the country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and lobster dinner. She met the Devil who appeared to be a really nice guy (kinda cute) and she had a great time telling jokes and dancing. The lawyer was having such a good time that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody shook her hand and waved goodbye as she got on the elevator. It went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly Gates and found St. Peter waiting for her. “Now it’s time to spend a day in Heaven.” So the lawyer spent the next 24 hrs. lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and singing. She had a great time and before she knew it her 24 hrs. were up and St. Peter came and got her. “So, you’ve spent a day in Hell and you’ve spent a day in Heaven. Now you must choose your eternity.” The lawyer paused for a second and then replied, “Well I never thought I’d say this, I mean, Heaven has been great and all, but I think I had a better time in Hell.” So St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again the lawyer went down-down- down back to Hell. When the doors opened she found herself standing in a desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her friends dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage. The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her. “I don’t understand,” stammered the lawyer, “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and we danced and had a great time. Now it’s just a wasteland of garbage and all my friends look miserable.” The Devil looked at her and smiled. “That’s because yesterday you were a recruit, but today you’re staff.”

Satan’s temptations often look good on the outside.  It’s once you’ve jumped in that you realize it wasn’t exactly what you bargained for.

Jesus knows that this is not the way to become King of the whole earth.  He knows that it will come from His death on the cross, not giving in to Satan.

:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

worshipproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

servelatreuo – to serve for hire; to serve, minister to, either to the gods or men and used alike of slaves and freemen; in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship; to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for his worship

Keep in mind that when Jesus quotes the Old Testament, He quotes the Greek Translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint.

Quite a few commentaries have suggested that Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy, 6:13

(Deu 6:13 NKJV) "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.

But the two Greek words used here in the Septuagint (“fear”, and “serve”) are not the same words Jesus quoted.

It seems that Jesus is quoting the source of the Deuteronomy passages, the Ten Commandments given in Exodus 20. The two Greek words for “worship” and “serve” (proskuneo, latreuo) are found in the first commandment of the Ten Commandments.

(Exo 20:3-5 NKJV) "You shall have no other gods before Me. {4} "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; {5} you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Again, Jesus knew the principles as well as the actual verses, and applied them to His situation.

He didn’t just quote a verse, He applied the principle.


Learning the Word

I find it fascinating that the principles Jesus applied were principles learned by the Israelites while they were in the “wilderness”. And Jesus has just spent the last forty days in the “wilderness”.
He saw the principles in the Scriptures from 1400 years earlier apply directly to His life
We saw last Sunday (Eph. 6:17) that God’s Word is part of our armor, it’s the “sword of the Spirit”.
(Heb 4:12 NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
There is a sense in which God’s Word is “alive”. It’s not a bunch of old, dead words. It works in our hearts.
(2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, {17} that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
God’s Word is one of the key ingredients to “growing up” in the Christian life.

:11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

:12-17 Galilean Ministry Starts

:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.

Jesus has been in the south, now He heads north.

:13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,

leaving Nazareth – Luke tells us (Luke 4:16-30) they were trying to kill Jesus in Nazareth.

Capernaum – this would be the city Jesus would spend the most time in, sort of like a “home base”. It was on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee.

:14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

:15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:

:16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."

This is a quote from Isaiah 9:1-2

:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Just like John, Jesus preached the necessity of repentance.

repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent; to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins

:18-22 Calling the Fishers of Men

:18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

:19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

We don’t think this was the first time that Jesus met these two brothers. The first time was after Jesus’ baptism down south in Judea. Andrew had been one of John the Baptist’s disciples and had heard John the Baptist call Jesus the “Lamb of God”. Andrew went and got his brother Simon Peter and they started hanging around Jesus (John 1:35-42).

Now that they’re all back in the north, Andrew and Peter had gone back to work on their fishing boat. Jesus goes to them and asks them to follow Him.

There is a difference between being “acquainted” with Jesus and being His disciple.

I’m not trying to make a distinction between “saved” and “unsaved”. But there are people who follow Jesus when it’s convenient and there are those who choose to make it their life’s goal to be close to Jesus.

Peter and Andrew will no longer catch fish, but now they will catch men.

:20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

This seems to be a mark of discipleship – not necessarily quitting your job, but being willing to stop what you’re doing and follow Jesus.

Don’t let anything keep you from following Jesus.

:21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,

:22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Two more fishermen.

Note the word “immediately” is used for both sets of brothers.

Discipleship is learning to quickly respond to the call of Jesus.

:23-25 Teaching and Healing

:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

:24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.

:25 Great multitudes followed Him; from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

Galilee – the northern part of Israel.

Decapolis – meaning “ten cities”, they were located southeast of the Sea of Galilee, mainly composed of Gentiles.

Jerusalem – the capital city of Israel.

Judea – the southern part of Israel.

beyond the Jordan – referring to the area on the eastern side of the Jordan river