The Word Made Fresh
1Afterwards, the Spirit led Jesus up into the hills alone to be tempted by the devil. 2He went without food for forty days and nights, and he was starving. 3The devil tempted him, saying, “You’re God’s own Son! Why don’t you turn these stones into loaves of bread?”
4Jesus said, “It isn’t bread that keeps us alive. It’s every word that God speaks!”
5The devil brought him to the holy city and propped him up on the pinnacle of the temple. 6He said, “Since you’re the Son of God, jump! Isn’t it written, ‘I will order my angels to watch over you, and they will catch you before your feet are dashed on the rocks below?’”
7Jesus replied, “It is also written, ‘Don’t test the LORD your God!’”
8Then the devil led him to the top of a tall mountain from where he could see all the kingdoms of the world and all their riches. 9He said, “All this is yours if you will bow down to me and worship me.”
10Jesus said, “Get away from me, Satan. It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God alone, and serve the Lord only!’” 11At that, the devil left him alone, and angels came to take care of him.
12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went back to Galilee, 13but he left Nazareth and took up lodging in Capernaum, a town on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee in the ancient territories of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14In so doing, he fulfilled a prophesy of Isaiah:
15“Land of Zebulun and Naphtali, around the Sea of Galilee and along the Jordan River in Galilee of the Gentiles: 16people who were living in darkness have seen a bright light, and on those who were living in a land shadowed by death, light has dawned!”
17That was the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, and he began to preach, “Repent! The kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”
18On one occasion when Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw the brothers Simon (nicknamed “Peter”) and Andrew, who were fishermen, casting a net into the sea. 19Jesus called out, “Come with me! I’ll show you how to fish for men!” 20They left their nets and followed him. 21A little further along he saw two other brothers – James and John, who were sons of Zebedee. They were with their father in a boat getting their nets ready to fish. Jesus called them, too, 22and without hesitation they left the boat and their father behind and followed Jesus.
23Jesus went throughout Galilee. He taught in their synagogues and preached the good news about God’s kingdom. He healed every disease and illness among the people. 24Word of him spread all through Syria, and people brought friends and family members and others who were suffering from diseases, pains, demon possession, seizures, paralysis – Jesus healed them all. 25Huge crowds followed him around, from Galilee, the Ten Cities, Jerusalem, all over Judea and even the territory across the Jordan River.
1-4: But new worlds don’t just happen. There are preparations to be made. Each of the first three gospels (Mathew, Mark, and Luke) report the temptation of Jesus. In Mark it is only mentioned in passing, (Mark 1:12-13), but in Matthew and Luke (Luke 4:1-13) there are exchanges between Jesus and the devil (“Satan” in Mark). Luke presents the three temptations in a different order than Matthew. The temptations are usually interpreted by commentators as Jesus wrestling with questions of how his messiahship will be manifested. The first temptation is to bypass creation’s way of providing food. Jesus insists that it is not the food that counts, but the way one lives one’s life. The Messiah will not accept special consideration.
5-7: The second temptation is to make a demonstration of his special status by making a public display of divine powers. Jesus insists that to do so would be testing God, and he has no need to test God. The Messiah must trust in God, as we all should.
8-11: Notice that the first two temptations were prefaced with the challenge, “If you are the Son of God.” Now the devil unabashedly offers all the power and wealth in the world if Jesus will worship him. Jesus points out that only God is worthy of worship. The devil leaves him, and angels come to succor him. Thus, Matthew has made it clear that Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry did not seek wealth or power or acclaim.
12-17: John’s arrest prompts Jesus to move to Capernaum on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Matthew, of course, sees this move as the fulfillment of a prophecy (Isaiah 9:2). He begins by proclaiming the message of John the baptizer: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (see 3:2).
18-22: Jesus calls his first followers, a pair of brothers – Peter and Andrew, James, and John. It is not necessary for us to imagine these men had never seen or heard of Jesus before. The more plausible scenario is that they knew him and were waiting on him to announce his first mission to the surrounding territory. I can imagine the phrase “fishers of men” was one they had heard Jesus use to describe the work he was preparing to launch.
23-25: So, off they go on their first mission together. Jesus teaches, as a rabbi would be expected to do, proclaims the good news of the kingdom of God (the “good news” at this point is simply that the kingdom is near), and cures the sick. Crowds gather from near and far.
Jesus never thrusts himself upon us. He gives an invitation and patiently waits for our response.