Matthew 4; Luke 4-5 – Come Follow Me

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This review from the LDS, Come Follow Me manuals for Sunday School, Families, and Individuals covers the lesson plan for Matthew 4, and Luke 4 and 5.

In the previous lesson we covered the baptism of Jesus.

Matthew 4:1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”  The Joseph Smith Translation of that same verse reads, “Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be with God.”  Smith was trying to emphasize that the Savior did not go specifically to confront the devil nor be to be tempted by him.  Nonetheless, the message to us is that temptation will come to us as a result of being here on earth, but we should not deliberately place ourselves in tempting circumstances.

Back to Matthew 4:2 “And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil.”  He fasted like 5 to 6 weeks!  The word “tempted” is best understood by the word “tried.”  Tempted is a form of the word “tempering,” as in tempering steel.  To be tempted is to be tried and be tried is the only way we can tell if we have grown stronger than before.  Jesus here was led by the Holy Spirit to the wilderness to be tried as if by fire.  He would certainly walk away stronger – as a man in the flesh – in His resolve to suffer.

Both Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.” 

The manual asks, “Why is it helpful to know that the Savior faced temptations similar to those we face today?”

As we continue, we see that the devil tempted the Savior in three major areas in which Satan likewise tempts us: Matthew 4 verse 3 – Physical appetites; Verse 6 – Vanity and Pride; and Verse 9 – Materialism and Power.  But you will see another form of temptation associated with the above temptations.  It is the word “if” in verses 3 and 6.   The devil challenged Jesus to prove that He was indeed the Son of God.  This “if” challenge can be a very effective tool for Satan as he likewise challenges us to “prove it.” 

The manual asks, “Why was Christ able to resist temptation?”  Jesus had a personal relationship with His Father in Heaven and Jesus knew He was the Son of God.  The Savior’s knowledge of the scriptures helped him respond to Satan by saying “it is written.”  That is to say, “God’s Word has spoken it.”  The Savior’s quoting scriptures to thwart the temptations of the devil, teaches us a major message that there is great strength and safety against temptation if we are familiar with God’s Word.  That is why we should be reading and pondering the Bible daily.  The manual teaches that “To Him, Satan’s offer – ‘All this power will I give thee’ (Luke 4:6) – was a hollow one, for the Savior’s lifelong preparation allowed Him to receive ‘the power of the Spirit’ (Luke 4:14).  So, despite temptation, trials, and rejection, Jesus Christ never wavered from His appointed work.”

I just want to point out here, this account of Satan’s temptations of Jesus in Luke is somewhat parallel to Satan’s temptations of Eve in Genesis.  Satan seems to be appealing to the very same things: The first temptation was feeding the flesh.  Eve saw the fruit of the Tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes.  Jesus was being asked to turn stones into food, so He could feed Himself – temptations of the physical appetite.  The second temptation was where Eve was told by Satan that she would not die if she partook of the fruit.  Likewise, Satan tempted Jesus from atop the temple to jump and call the angels to catch Him to prevent Him from dying – temptations for personal gain.  The third temptation was when Satan told Eve if she ate the fruit she would be like God.  To Jesus, Satan offered all of the world’s kingdoms – temptation for power in both cases.  These temptations are summarized in 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world.”      

The topic now changes to John the Baptist, who has been imprisoned by Herod.  Matthew 4:12 “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee.”  The JST Matthew 4:11 says that Jesus sent angels to minister to John.  We will take a closer look at what led up to John being in prison and his fateful ending in a future lesson. 

Back to Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  And with that declaration, Jesus officially begins His formal ministry. 

Luke 4:16 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”  Jesus then reads two verses of scripture from Isaiah 61:1-2 and tells the people gathered there that those passages apply to Him.  Luke 4:21-22 “And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  And all bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.  And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?”  The people begin to have doubts.  They are saying, “Now wait a minute, isn’t this Jesus who is Joseph the carpenter’s son?  We know His family. He grew up here in Nazareth.  He is just a common man – one of us.  How can He possibly think He is the Messiah?”  The story goes on to say in Luke 4:28-32 “And all they in the synagogue when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.  But he passing through the midst of them went his way. And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.  And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.”

At this point it is necessary for Jesus to call the men who will become His Apostles.  Notice – I did not say Prophets – I only said Apostles.  In Luke 16:16 Jesus declares that John the Baptist was the last prophet.  The only One who would be called a Prophet under the New Covenant would be Jesus, himself.  Hebrews 1:1-2 “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” Jesus is our Eternal Prophet.

Matthew 4:18-22 “And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets and followed him.  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called to them.  And they immediately left the ship and their father and followed him.”  Luke 5:1-11 gives more detail about the calling of these humble men.  This is real history!  These were men, who just seconds prior had no idea what their future held for them.  They probably assumed they were going to fish until they were dead.  Then Jesus comes along one day and says, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  The parallel between fishing for fish and fishing for men – both are an effort of extreme faith and hard work.  It would take strong men. 

God calls out to all of us “to follow Him.”  And if, and when we hear and heed the call, our lives will never be the same again.  Those who hear His voice, like these fishermen, know there is nothing on earth more important than following Him and leaving all behind.  When Scripture says they followed Him, this means they became His disciples and eventually His apostles – to be ambassadors of the Good News.

Matthew 4:23 “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”  Matthew 4:25 “And there followed him great multitudes of people.” 

Luke 5:18-23 “And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.  And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.  And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?  Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?” 

The Savior is saying, in effect, “If I am a fraud, and an imposter, as you say I am, which would be safer for me to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ or ‘Rise up and walk?  Which would be less likely to expose Me as a fake?  The obvious answer is ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ since there is no immediate way of telling whether, or not that happens to the sick man.  But as Jesus says, “Rise up and walk,” there will be immediate evidence as to whether, or not He is an imposter.  This creates a very tense situation. 

The story goes on in Luke 4:24-26 “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.  And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.” 

And, that concludes our review of the Matthew 4 and Luke 4 and 5.

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God Bless!

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