Kingdom Herald

Victorious over the Devil and empowered by the Spirit, Jesus appeared in “Galilee of the Nations” proclaiming the Kingdom of God

Lighthouse in Night - Photo by Pablo Orcaray on Unsplash
After his baptism
in the Jordan River, the Spirit “drove Jesus into the wildernessforty days and nights.Like Israel in the wilderness, he was “tested” by Satan, but unlike that nation, he overcame every test and emerged victorious, full of the Holy Spirit,” and thus, well-equipped to proclaim God’s kingdom - [Photo by Pablo Orcaray on Unsplash].

This contest with the Devil determined just what kind of Messiah Jesus is – A mighty conquering hero or the humble Servant of the Lord. Moreover, his temptation was a vital step in preparing him to become the herald of the kingdom.

His test was necessary since the Messiah of Israel must live in full submission to God’s will, and it is vital that he be empowered by THE Spirit.

Not coincidentally, Christ’s temptation preceded his ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in which he pronounced his authoritative applications of the statutes of the Mosaic Law and instructed his followers on what it meant to follow him.

  • (Matthew 4:1-2) - “Then was Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered.
  • (Deuteronomy 8:2) - “You will remember all the way which Yahweh your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to test you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.
  • (Deuteronomy 9:9) – “When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which Yahweh made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights; I did neither eat bread nor drink water.

Just as Yahweh “led” Israel into the Wilderness, so the Spirit of God “drove” the Messiah into the Judean desert where he was “tested by the Devil.” Certainly, Satan played his part in this affair, but events were under the direction of the Lord.

And just as Moses did not eat during his “forty days and forty nights” on the Mountain, so Jesus “fasted” the entire forty days that he was in the Wilderness.

THE SPIRIT


Led by the Spirit.” All three synoptic gospels leave no doubt it was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness. He was under divine necessity. As the Messiah, he had to succeed where Israel failed – (Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1).
  • (Matthew 4:3-4) – “And the tempter came and said to him, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

The first temptation recalls the complaint of Israel when the people murmured against Moses - (Exodus 16:1-4).

Yahweh responded graciously by feeding Israel with “manna” from heaven to sustain the nation. In contrast, rather than grumble about his plight, Jesus responded to Satan’s taunt by citing the passage from Deuteronomy that refers to the miraculous feeding of Israel with manna:
  • (Deuteronomy 8:3) – “And Yahweh humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh does man live.”

Unlike Israel, the Messiah did not mutter against God. Instead, he submitted to the will of His Father despite any suffering that resulted from doing so.

TEMPT NOT GOD


  • (Matthew 4:5-7) – “Then the Devil took him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you; and, On their hands, they shall bear you up, lest haply you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, Again it is written, You shall not test the Lord your God.

Ironically, having declared that the Messiah lives by every word that comes out of the “mouth of the Lord,” Satan next uses one of those very words to tempt Jesus to commit a rash act.

Since devout Jews expect the Messiah to appear in the Temple, would it not advance his mission if he descended safely from the “pinnacle of the Temple” and landed gently in its courts while the nation was at worship? – (Malachi 3:1).

Israel had “tested” Yahweh with their complaints, and more than once, but Jesus refused to do so. At his baptism, the voice from heaven proclaimed him the “beloved Son” and Messiah, but he was summoned to fulfill that role as the “Servant of Yahweh” who “suffered” for his brethren.

Preaching the Kingdom, clipart.christiansunite.com
[Source - clipart.christiansunite.com]


This Messiah would be manifested to Israel and the world in his submission and suffering for others, and NOT in impressive displays of military might or royal majesty – (Psalm 2:7, Isaiah 42:1, Matthew 3:17).

Again, Jesus responded by citing the passage from Deuteronomy - “You shall not test Yahweh your God, as you tested him in Massah,” the place where Israel had complained once more - (Exodus 17:1-3, Deuteronomy 6:16).

The gospel of Matthew intends for us to see this scriptural background in the testing of Christ. And once again, where Israel failed, he overcomes.

POLITICAL POWER


  • (Matthew 4:8-10) – “Again, the Devil took him to an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said to him, All these things will I give you if you wilt fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.

The third temptation is all too real. At his baptism, the heavenly voice alluded to the second Psalm, a messianic passage that promised God’s “anointed” would inherit all the kingdoms of the world. Was not the power offered to Jesus by the Devil his by divine decree. - (Psalm 2:7-8, Matthew 3:17).

Most strikingly, in the account, Jesus does NOT dispute Satan’s right to grant him sovereignty over all governments, including the Roman Empire. Imagine all the good that he could do if he wielded the might and majesty of Rome! If anyone deserves unlimited political power, it is the Son of God and Messiah of Israel.

Yet here, Jesus rejects the offer out of hand, and in doing so, he quotes from the same passage he had just cited to fend off the second temptation:
  • You shall fear Yahweh you God, and him shall you serve… You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, for Yahweh, your God is a jealous God; lest the anger of Yahweh your God be kindled against you and he destroys you from off the face of the earth. You shall not test Yahweh your God, as you tested him in Massah - (Deuteronomy 6:13-16).

Having completed his test, the Devil left Jesus, and angels “came and ministered to him.” According to the version of the story in Luke, Satan “departed from him for a season,” indicating this was not his final attempt to derail Christ’s mission. On at least one other occasion, he again tempted him with political power - (John 6:15).

Having overcome every test, Jesus next “returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” The presence of the Spirit in his ministry was vital for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, the suffering Servant of Yahweh must demonstrate true political power and how it is administered in God’s kingdom.

And not coincidentally, he began to herald the Kingdom in “Galilee of the Nations” rather than in Jerusalem or from the Temple. Though his ministry was limited to the “lost sheep of Israel,” it did not end there.



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