Having been baptized by John, Jesus was brought by the Spirit to the desert to be tempted by the devil. With the word of God, the Lord overcame the devil’s trickery. Then, after hearing that John was put in prison, Jesus moved up north to the regions around Galilee, where He called the first disciples and began His public ministry.
Did You Know...?
- The word “devil” (4:1) means “slanderer”; and the name “Satan” means “adversary.”
- Capernaum (4:13) is one of the territories assigned to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. It is located at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee.
- Fishermen had more income than average people in Galilee, so James and John left behind a good job. [ref]
- Synagogues (4:23): (Hellenistic Gk. sunagōgē, “gathering of people,” “a congregation,” “a place of prayer,” Acts 16:13 NIV)… As only a small proportion of the people could become proficient in the study of the law under the scribes, and as it was desirable that all should have at least an elementary acquaintance therewith, the custom grew up in postexilic times of reading the Scriptures in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. [ref]
- Syria (4:24): The area north of Galilee and between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea. [ref]
- Decapolis (4:25): “ten cities”…A district containing ten cities in the NE part of Galilee, near the Sea of Galilee. [ref] A league of free cities… characterized by high Greek culture. All but one, Scythopolis (Beth Shan), were east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan river. The league stretched from a point northeast of the Sea of Galilee southward to Philadelphia (modern Amman). [ref]
Why did Jesus have to be tempted?
What were Satan’s three challenges to Jesus?
What are the common characteristics of the temptations?Hide Answer
They all aim at these human weaknesses: self-centeredness; desire to prove oneself or to satisfy one’s lust; submission to Satan’s commands in exchange for physical or material gains.
What traps was Satan laying down with each of his temptations?Hide Answer
By asking Jesus to turn stones into bread, Satan hoped to lure Jesus into obeying his commands and misusing his divine power for personal interests.By asking Jesus to throw himself down the temple, Satan hoped that Jesus would prove his divinity by calling upon God’s protection.
By asking Jesus to bow down to him, Satan hoped that Jesus would defy God’s commands and surrender His authority to Satan in order to gain the world.
Were the temptations similar to any that came to Jesus later during the course of his earthly career? (Lk 4:13 reads, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time”)Hide Answer
Several times Jesus was presented with situations where He could have fed on his pride or “proved” that He was from God. For example:
The people wanted to make Him king by force (Jn 6:14, 15). The Pharisees and Sadducees demanded a sign (Mt 16:1-4). People insulted Him, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God” (Mt 27:40).
Explain each of Jesus’ response to Satan’s challenges.Hide Answer
Jesus responded to Satan’s challenge to turn stones into bread by pointing out that obedience to God’s command in order to have spiritual life is more important than sustaining the body with food.
Jesus quoted the Scriptures, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God” to show that it is wrong to deliberately put ourselves in a situation to test the truthfulness of God’s promise.
Jesus turned down Satan’s attractive offer by God’s very command that we are to worship and serve only the Lord God.
What does Satan’s ability to quote the Scriptures tell us about Satan and his work?Hide Answer
He is a deceiver and liar (Rev 12:9; Jn 8:44). He disguises himself as an angel of light (
2Cor 11:14-15) in order to take advantage of our ignorance or spiritual dullness. He leads people into false doctrines and sin in the same way the serpent deceived Eve ( 2Cor 11:3). Satan is well versed in the Scriptures and is able to fool those who are not watchful or those who have wrong motives for following God’s word.
What was the difference between Satan’s and Jesus’ use of the Scriptures? What can we learn from this about our attitude to God’s word?Hide Answer
Satan misused the Scriptures in order to make his case strong. Such application of God’s word for self-justification or gratification is the source of error.
Jesus’ quotation of God’s word, on the contrary, were all based on the truth in God’s words and a sincere obedience to God’s authority.
Therefore, we should not use God’s word to justify ourselves for our selfish gain. Instead, we ought to study and apply God word with the intent to know and obey God’s will.
What does Jesus’ victory over Satan’s temptations teach us about how to overcome temptations in our lives?Hide Answer
Store God’s word in our hearts and know God’s will.
Have a sincere desire to obey God’s will over our personal needs.
Be faithful to God and not be distracted by material or fleshly allurement.
What message did Jesus preach?
What do the images of darkness and light mean?Hide Answer
Darkness refers to the hopeless condition of death (shadow of death in verse 16) that results from futile thinking and shameful deeds of disobedience (see Eph 4:17, 18, 5:11, 12).
Light refers to God’s mercy and salvation, which bring us unto the path of hope and peace (Lk 1:78-79; Acts 26:17, 18)
Could there be a significance to the term “Galilee of the Gentiles” (4:15)?
What does the term “fishers of men” mean?
How did the disciples later become fishers of men?
What does the reaction of the disciples to Jesus’ calling teach us about our attitude towards God?Hide Answer
Be quick to respond to Jesus’ command. Put God first in our lives. This calls for trust in God and total dedication.
According to this passage, how can we become fishers of men?Hide Answer
Verse 19 teaches us that to be fishers of men, we need to follow the Lord Jesus. This means imitating the examples of the Lord, serving Him, obeying His word, and participating in His sufferings.
The same verse also teaches us that it is the Lord who makes us fishers of men. We need the life-transforming power of God in order to be the Lord’s witnesses (Eph 2:8-10). We need to trust in the Lord, feed on His word, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Through constant change and renewal, the Lord makes us fishers of men.
What threefold ministry did Jesus carry out?