The other day, I was reading Matthew 15:21-28.
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyreand Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (ESV)
I started thinking about the Jewish society of that time. It was extremely prejudicial, and a person’s worth or cleanliness was largely based on race and ethnic origin. As a Canaanite and a woman, she would have been viewed with disdain. Also, the statement made by Jesus echoes that sentiment.
However, the woman trusted Jesus. She believed him to be fair and loving. She trusted him to not judge her based on superficial things. Her trust in the love of Jesus was not misplaced. Jesus healed her daughter and commented on her great faith.
After leaving the wilderness, Jesus began preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV)
Jesus walked by Simon Peter and Andrew, while they were fishing, and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (ESV)
The brothers immediately put down their nets and followed Jesus.
Later, Jesus saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John mending nets in a boat with their father. Jesus called out to them and told the brothers to follow him. James and John immediately left the boat and followed Jesus.
Jesus continued traveling in Galilee, teaching in synagogues, and healing the sick.
I wonder how Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John felt when they left everything behind to follow Jesus. Were they afraid? Were they excited to be chosen to serve with Jesus?
Jesus went into the wilderness to spend forty days fasting. The devil waited until Jesus was at the end of his fast before trying to tempt Jesus. The devil wanted to take advantage of the weakened and weary state of Jesus.
By studying the temptation of Jesus, we can learn how to resist temptation in our own lives.
The first temptation:
The devil told Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (ESV)
Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (ESV)
The devil appealed to the fleshly desires of Jesus and tried to get him to break the fast by turning stones into bread. The devil also tried to illicit a prideful spirit within Jesus, by saying, “If you are the Son of God.”
Jesus was able to resist temptation and used scripture as his strength and reasoning.
The second temptation:
For the second temptation, “the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”” (ESV)
The devil continued to question Jesus about his divinity. He also used scripture to tempt Jesus. However, Jesus combated the temptation by quoting scripture back to the devil, “it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (ESV)
If we are to resist temptation and stand firm in our faith, then studying the bible is essential. How can we proclaim to believe something if we don’t know what it teaches? How can we stand up against false teachings, if we don’t know the truth within the scriptures?
The third temptation:
The devil tried to tempt Jesus one more time, “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'” (ESV)
Jesus refused and told the devil, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” (ESV)
For the finial temptation, the devil promised to give Jesus earthly power and wealth. Once again, Jesus resisted temptation and rejected the offer.
The temptation of riches, fame, and power is a hard one for most people. All through out history, mankind (as individuals and as nations) have committed horrible acts to claim power over others or take riches from them.
We also have a tendency to place power and wealth as the priority of our lives. People will ignore family obligations to make more money, only to find their family is gone when they finally reach their goals.
Money is used to justify treating employees badly or cheating customers. The love of money can lead us into disastrous situations.
To resist such a powerful temptation, we need to have our priorities right. We should seek to worship and serve God, and not power or wealth.
King Herod discovered the wise men had tricked him by not returning with the information he requested. Herod was furious, so he had every male child (two years or younger) in Bethlehem killed.
This was a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (ESV)
King Herod refused to study the scriptures and lived according to his own evil desires. However, a part of him must have feared the scriptures were true. Why else would he put so much effort into killing a baby?
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Egypt. The angle told Joseph, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (ESV)
Joseph took his family to Israel, but he was still afraid. Archelaus, the son of Herod, was now the king in Judea. Joseph had a dream and he was told to go to the district of Galilee.
Joseph and his family moved to Nazareth and this was also a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus Christ was to be called a Nazarene.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of King Herod.
Wise men from the East went to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” (ESV)
The wise men had spotted the star proclaiming the birth of Jesus and wanted to worship the new born King.
In some translations, the wise men are also referred to as Magi, which was the name for Zoroastrian priests. The word could also mean astrologers. (source: Dictionary.com)
King Herod was upset by what the wise men were saying. He called the chief of priests and the scribes to ask where Christ was to be born. They told him Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea, as the prophet foretold: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” (ESV)
This passage shows King Herod didn’t take time to study the scriptures and had no desire to even try to learn from the scriptures. He didn’t know where Christ was to be born. Instead of reading the scriptures to discover the answer, he asked other people to tell him what the scriptures said about the birth of Jesus.
Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem and told them, “Go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (ESV)
Of course, Herod was lying to the wise men. He actually wanted to find the child and have him killed.
The wise men continued their journey and found Jesus Christ. They immediately started worshipping Jesus and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense (a gum resin obtained from an African tree and burned as incense), and myrrh (a fragrant gum resign obtained from certain trees in the near east used in perfumery, medicines, and incense). (source: Dictionary.com)
The wise men were warned in a dream to not return to Herod, so they went home another way.