Category Archives: MATTHEW 4

The temptation of Christ and His preaching after the imprisonment of John the Baptist

MATTHEW 4

 

NOTES ON MATTHEW 4

Survey of the chapter
Having been baptised by John, and seen the Spirit descend, and heard the Father voicing His approval, the Lord Jesus is to be put to the test. The one who will do the testing is Satan himself, thus ensuring that the test is of the most severe kind. If the Lord Jesus is the True King, He must be able to deal with every adversary, and the prime adversary is Satan, for that is the meaning of his name. If He defeats that one, He can defeat all who oppose Him.

Having successfully defeated the enemy, the Lord can embark on His ministry among men, and so goes to live in Galilee, as the prophet said He would.

The king needs those who can do His bidding, so He begins to choose that that will be close to Him and preach the coming kingdom.

The chapter ends with Matthew’s survey of His ministry in Galilee, and the effect it had on the district around. As we shall see, the geographical extent of that influence was very significant.

Structure of the passage

(a) Verses 1-11 The temptation in the wilderness
(b) Verses 12-17 The transfer to Capernaum
(c) Verses 18-22 The turning-point for the apostles
(d) Verses 23-25 The territory His ministry affected

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW CHAPTER 4, VERSES 1 TO 17:

4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

4:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred.

4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

4:5 Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,

4:6 And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.

4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

4:8 Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

4:9 And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.

4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.

4:11 Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.

4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee;

4:13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

(a) Verses 1-11 The temptation in the wilderness

Special note on the subject of temptation

We must be very careful when considering the subject of the temptation of the Lord Jesus. In our earnest attempt to understand it, (insofar as it is possible to do so), we must remember the uniqueness of His person. He is the Son of God, and as such is not able to sin, or else God is able to sin. When He took manhood, He did not cease to be what He always was. Scripture teaches that He who is in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Note that He took the likeness of men upon Himself as one who is in the form of God. He added manhood to His Deity. He did not modify His Deity to accommodate His manhood. He now possesses two natures, yet remains one person. Now it is persons that sin, not natures, so because He remains the same person He ever was, then for that reason He is not able to sin. Because He remains God, like God He cannot be tempted with evil, James 1:13, for it holds no attraction for Him at all. He does not have to weigh up the situation and make a decision whether to give in or not- for Him, sinning is not an option.

He is not able to sin for a related reason also. When He came into the world, the Son of God expressed the resolve to do God’s will, Hebrews 10:7. The fact that He did indeed perform the will of God perfectly, is not only known by His own testimony, when He said, “I do always those things which please Him”, John 8:29, and, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”, John 17:4, (and if it were not so He would have told us, John 14:2), but also from the fact that He has returned to the throne from which He was sent, and has sat down there with Divine approval, Hebrews 10:12.

It may be objected that the Lord Jesus did certain things which it is not possible for God the Father to do. He slept, (But “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”, Psalm 121:4), He hungered and thirsted, (but God needeth not anything, Acts 17:25), and He died, (but God is from everlasting to everlasting, Psalm 90:2, and the Living God, Acts 14:15). Christ did indeed experience these things, but He did so, not because His Deity was weakened or modified, but precisely because He was God, and as such could will to do these things. It was part of what He willingly accepted when He became man.

We are told by those who believe that Christ did not sin, but could have done so, that He needs to be like that to relate to His people, who are capable of sinning. The people of God, however, are born of God, and as such do not practice sin as a habit. 1 John 3:9. They do, alas, commit sins, but they do so when acting after the flesh, and God does not look on His people as if they are in the flesh, but in the Spirit, Romans 8:9. When believers commit sins they need, and have, an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One, who pleads the value of His work at Calvary.

It is true that the statement, “Jesus Christ could not sin”, is not found in Scripture. But the truth is certainly found there, and it is implied overwhelmingly by the whole doctrine about Christ and His Person. Is it realistic to suggest that a person who could sin would be able to pass through this world with all its temptations, be assailed by the wickedest, cleverest force for evil in the world, even the Devil himself, and not succumb? Also, if He could sin when on earth, how are we sure that He cannot sin now? His condition has changed, it is true, but His person has not; if He could sin then, He could sin now. This is unthinkable.

We should remember that because a person is tempted, it should not be assumed that he is able to give in to temptation, for there may be infinite ability to resist. This is the case with Christ. Because too often we do give in to temptation, we tend to think that this is part of the idea in the word. It is not so, however. After all, the children of Israel tempted God in the wilderness, Hebrews 3:9, but there is no possibility of God sinning. It is one of the things He cannot do, for He cannot deny Himself, and He is holy and righteous.

The word for tempt is the sort of word that in Bible times a metal refiner would use. In 1 Peter 1:6,7, the apostle refers to manifold temptations, and these temptations put faith to the test. Now just as a metal refiner put his metal through the test of the fire, so that he could skim off the dross that floated to the surface, so the trial of our faith has a like effect in the moral sphere. Job could say, “When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”, Job 23:10. The refiner would continue heating and skimming until he could see his own face reflected without distortion in the molten metal. In like manner the Lord allows us to go through trials so that the dross of likeness to Adam may be removed, and the likeness of Christ may be seen reflected in the metal. If we respond to this process, then when the Lord comes there will be a discovery, (hence the word “found” in 1 Peter 1:7), of conformity to Christ, and this will be to His praise. Men refine gold to adorn their own persons, but this “gold” is for the praise, honour and glory of the one who brings the trial. Ordinary gold, even when it has been tried many times in the fire until the dross has all been removed, will, despite its preciousness, still perish at the dissolution of all things, 2 Peter 3:10,11. Spiritual gold, however, which results from the testing of our faith, will last for ever.

With the Lord Jesus there was no dross, but that did not prevent the fire of temptation putting Him to the test in order that it might be evident that this was the case. As He Himself said, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me”, John 14:30.

Matthew records the temptation that came at the beginning of Christ’s public ministry because he wishes to show us the King who is perfectly fitted to rule over men, and require them to obey His law. He has not the moral right to demand this if He is liable to sin. As David said, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God”, 2 Samuel 23:3.

Matthew records the final three temptations of the forty days in the order in which they occurred, so the climax, appropriately for the Gospel of the King, is the refusal of the kingdoms of the world. These will be Christ’s one day, not from the Devil, but from His Father, as Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”.

It is entirely appropriate for Luke to rearrange the temptations, so that the climax this time has the theme of worship, and Luke’s gospel is the account of the fitting of Christ to be the High priest of His people, and offer their worship to God. He does so as one who had the worship of God as His priority.

Whilst Mark gives us no detail of the temptation itself, he does mention the wild beasts. What an evidence of the failure of the first man to serve God! The animals had been brought to Adam, and he had served God by naming them, but at that point no trace of wildness was in them. Now it is different, for sin has come in, and with it the corruption of creation, Romans 8:20,21, so that the animals are now wild. Christ began His ministry amongst the wild beasts, and finished it by riding into Jerusalem on an untamed ass, for He is the one who has all things under His feet, including the beasts of the field, Psalm 8:7, the sheep and oxen, John 2:14, and the birds of the air, Mark 14:30, and the fish of the sea, whether the shoals or the individual fish, Luke 5:4-7; Matthew 17:27. He shows clearly by this that He is God’s millenial man.

John gives to us no mention of the Temptation, but he does give us the sequel. Having been tempted, the Lord Jesus came up out of the wilderness to meet John the Baptist, who, seeing Him come unto him in that way, exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, John 1:29. Here is the testimony of the son of a priest, that the Lord Jesus is not only the counterpart of the fit man of Leviticus 16:21, but also the scapegoat-in-waiting as well. He is shown to be without blemish by His experience in the wilderness, (for He has rested temptation totally), and thus is both fit and suitable for the task of bearing sin at God’s appointed time.

Coming to Luke’s account, we notice that he puts the genealogy of Christ immediately preceding the temptation. Matthew had begun his gospel with the King’s genealogy, and started at the baseline of Abraham and David, the two who had received promises from God about the future kingdom, Abraham receiving the promise of the Seed and the Land, David receiving promise concerning the House and the Throne. Matthew starts in the past, and finishes with Christ, for He represents the hope for the future.

Luke’s genealogy of Christ goes back in time, right back to Adam, described as son of God. Luke is clearly contrasting Christ, not with Israel in the wilderness, as Matthew does, but with Adam in the garden, surrounded by every tree that was good for food. Adam fell when surrounded by plenty, yet Christ, the second man, 1 Corinthians 15:47, triumphed when in want. Luke therefore ranges over the whole of human history up to that point, and challenges any to restore that which Adam took away, see Psalm 69:4. His extensive genealogy of Christ, going back to the beginning as it does, (Luke’s intention was to go back to the beginning of things, Luke 1:2,3), is also a challenge to Satan, to fail where he succeeded before.

Just as Goliath had challenged Israel for forty days to give him a man to fight, 1 Samuel 17:16, so Satan for forty centuries had challenged God to do the same. At last there is one who can meet the challenge. Just as David defeated Goliath with just one of the five stones he had hidden in his shepherd’s bag, so Christ defeated the Devil with the use of just one of the five books of Moses, which He had hidden in His shepherd heart. And why did David choose five stones? Goliath had four sons, 2 Samuel 21:15-22, and David was ready for them, too. So Christ knew that the Devil, although defeated in the wilderness, would come again, and the rest of Scripture would defeat him then.

4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness- the word then indicates that there is a sequence here, with the temptation following hard after the baptism. As soon as God presents His King to the nation Satan begins his attack. He realises that he is about to be assailed publicly, and so seeks to pre-empt that attack by going on the offensive himself.

The word Matthew uses for the leading into the wilderness is the equivalent to that used of Israel being led in the wilderness, Psalm 80:1, thus he is continuing his contrast between Israel of old, and the true Israel, Christ Himself, Isaiah 49:3. He has already applied “Out of Egypt have I called My son”, to Christ, Matthew 2:15, and then recorded the baptism of Christ, in effect His crossing of the Jordan. Now He is led into the wilderness. But note the order, for Israel were brought out of Egypt, led into the wilderness to be tested, (to see whether they would walk in God’s way or not, Deuteronomy 8:2), and then commanded to cross the Jordan into the land. But the word from heaven at Christ’s baptism assures us that there does not need to be a wilderness experience to see if He will walk in God’s ways, for that is already established, and the word from heaven confirms it. The book of Deuteronomy, from which Christ quoted twice in this incident, was the preparation of the people for entry into the land, but He mused upon it, confident that He was, Joshua-like, fit to enter into the work of God, and introduce others into the kingdom of God.

The word that Luke uses for led is the same one that is used of believers being led of the Spirit, in Romans 8:14. So He is moving into the temptation experience confident of the guidance of the Spirit in the matter. He does not act independently either of His Father or the Spirit, for Divine Persons by definition cannot act independently of one another, for God is One.

The order of the temptations in Luke is significant. It is body, soul, spirit, the same order in which Luke, a doctor, would have assessed his patients. First their bodily condition, then the soul-attitude, and then, as a Christian doctor, their spiritual condition. So first of all there is a temptation to do with physical hunger, then one to do with mental ambition, then to do with spiritual attitudes to God. It is worth noting that it was only after the temptations were over, that He felt hunger, as Luke 4:2 makes clear. John the Baptist had been sustained in the desert by locusts and wild honey, so it was not that there was no food to be found there. The point is that Christ was so absorbed by the word of God that the pangs of hunger did not affect Him. He was without food willingly, not by force of circumstances. So when the temptation about food came, the response was based on the Scriptures that fed His soul. He was the perfect example of one to whom the word of God was more important than necessary food, for “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”, Luke 4:4.

So, too, with the temptation to accept the kingdoms of the world immediately. His baptism had been His re-commitment to Calvary, so He had already given His answer to the idea that He was willing to escape death. And He had gone into the wilderness with His Father’s endorsement ringing in His ears. There was no doubt that His Father was on His side, so there was no need to test this out.

To be tempted of the devil- He is tempted of the devil, which name means accuser. Yet he does not come with accusations, but temptations. He can bring no charge concerning those silent years in Nazareth, any more than the men of Nazareth could when the Lord went back there to the synagogue, Luke 4:16. Their objection to Him lay in what He said about the Gentiles, not about any character-fault during His years amongst them. No doubt if Christ had sinned when tempted, the Devil would have been quick to accuse before God, but it was not to be. The most evil and perhaps the most wise created being is now attacking Christ, in order that he might overthrow God’s purpose through Him. Many had been his attempts to destroy the seed of the woman in Old Testament times. These had all failed, so now his scheme is to divert the Lord from the pathway of obedience, trust, and confidence which led to the cross.

4:2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred.

And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights- we shall learn what He was doing during those days, for He will quote twice over from the Book of Deuteronomy. He had been contemplating God’s word, and this sustained Him.

He was afterward an hungred- so absorbed was He in the word of God that His bodily needs were forgotten. He regarded God’s word as being of more importance than His daily food, as Job did in some measure, Job 23:12. We might well ask ourselves what our priorities are in this matter of the word of God. Is it more important or less important than our daily food? Are we more interested in nourishing our bodies than we are of nourishing our souls?

We know also that He was tempted during those forty days and nights, for the temptation came to a climax with the last three. Luke is very specific on this, writing, “Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing: and when they were ended, He afterward hungered”, Luke 4:2.

4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

And when the tempter came to Him, he said- Matthew calls him the tempter now, for that is how he is operating. He cannot accuse the Lord Jesus of anything, even though he is the devil, (which means “accuser”), for he has watched Christ’s life and can find no flaw. What he is doing now is testing Him inwardly rather than outwardly. He is hoping he has missed something, and can expose some inner fault.

Mark and Luke do not mention the devil coming, for they emphasise that the whole forty days was taken up with temptation, but Matthew notices that the devil came for the final onslaught. Matthew and Luke join to tell us that at the end, the devil left Him, for he had been thoroughly defeated.

If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread- God had provided for multitudes of Israelites for forty years in the wilderness, yet His own Son had only been there for forty days, and there was apparently no food! Later on in the ministry of the Lord Jesus He would point out that fathers, when their sons ask for bread, do not give them stones, Luke 11:11, yet here was the Son Himself, surrounded by stones, yet He had no bread! What a trial this was, far greater than the temptation that had come to Adam with regard to food, for he was surrounded by a plentiful supply. He did not need to eat of the forbidden fruit to save himself from starvation.

There was no dissatisfaction in the heart of the Lord Jesus, however, for He had better food than material bread. Every word which proceeded out of the mouth of God was valued as His necessary food. There had come no indication from the scriptures on which His soul fed, that He should turn a stone into bread, and thus He was content. Luke reserves the genealogy of the Lord Jesus until just prior to his temptation account, and traces His line backwards, to Adam, who he describes as “son of God”. Adam was the son of God as angels are sons of God, by creation, but Adam could not have turned a stone into bread, so could not be tempted to do so. This Son of God, however, is not called that because He is created, but because He is Creator. We read, “His dear Son…by Him were all things created”, Colossians 1:13,16. So Satan is not trying to find out whether Christ is the Creator; he is trying to make the Creator to sin, by using His powers. In a few days time the Lord Jesus will turn water into wine, so He is fully able, surely, to turn stones into bread. But it is not a question of His ability, but of His willingness. The Devil knows that God cannot sin, but can God manifest in the flesh do so? Will He assert His will, and act at variance with His Father? Satan had been successful in getting Adam to act contrary to God, so will the last Adam do likewise?

Note the word “command”, thus emphasising again that the Son of God has indeed power to do this. If He was merely man He would have had to ask in faith that God would do it.

In Luke Satan specifies a particular stone, whereas here in Matthew it is stones in the plural. Matthew is contrasting the experience of Israel in the wilderness temptations with that of Christ. They travelled for forty years through the stony wilderness, but nonetheless God gave them bread on the desert floor. They could pick up the bread from between the stones, but for all that they complained about the manna, calling it light bread, and longed for the flesh-pots of Egypt.

Matthew is also recording the temptation of the King, and perhaps the reference to stones is a sarcastic jibe from Satan, as if to say, “You will need bread for your royal retinue as well”.

Luke, however, has the contrast with Adam in mind, and the temptation with regard to one object, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan used one tree in the case of Adam, even though there were many trees in the garden, and one stone in the case of Christ, even though there were many stones on the ground. The mention of a single stone also emphasises that the Ideal Man is confronting the Tempter single-handedly. There is no-one else with Him needing bread.

4:4 But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

But He answered and said, It is written- by basing His reply to the Devil on God’s word, and especially since the quotation begins, “Man shall not live”, He clearly indicates that this victory over temptation can be ours as well as His, for we can all insert our name where the word “man” occurs. He does not assert His Divine authority and say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”, but simply quotes what is already written, as we may do. Nor does He say “Thus saith the Lord”, as the prophets did, for we cannot do that either. When we are tempted to doubt God’s goodness, then we should we cry for help, and He will show us in God’s word those things that demonstrate the reality of that goodness God has shown to us.

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God- this is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3. The surrounding verses read, “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him”, Deuteronomy 8:1-6.

Note the three-fold mention of the word “commandment”. The passage is telling us that Israel were caused to travel through the wilderness to humble them and prove them, to see if they would obey God’s commands or not. Would they find the life that is enjoyed by those who obey God? So there are two aspects to life. There is the life of the natural man, sustained by literal bread, and there is the life of the believer, one who obeys God, sustained by spiritual food. Before He went into the wilderness, however, the Lord Jesus was given the word from heaven that indicated He met with Divine approval. He did not need to be proved so that His Father could find out what was in His heart, but He did need to be proved so that we could find out. Nor did He need to be in the wilderness to humble Him, for He had already humbled Himself by committing Himself to Calvary by being baptised. There was no pride in Christ, unlike with Israel, who rose up against God in the wilderness.

He shows solidarity with Israel by sharing their experience of hunger, but His steadfastness was tested beyond theirs, because whereas Israel were given the manna to satisfy their hunger, He was not. He did not have to experience hunger to learn that man does not live by bread alone, but He needed to know the experience of hunger even though He already knew the truth of the primacy of God’s word. He learned obedience by the things that He suffered, Hebrews 5:8. He did not need to learn to obey, for He had not a nature that was capable of rebellion, but He did need to learn what it was to obey, so that He might succour and support those who are in danger of disobeying.

The Israelites were given simple commands relative to the manna. First, Moses said, “This is the thing that the Lord hath commanded, ‘Gather every man according to his eating'”, Exodus 16:16. Then Moses said, “Let no man leave of it until the morning”, verse 19, but some did. The third command was that they should only go out to gather the manna on six days, verse 26. But some disobeyed, and the Lord said unto Moses, “How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws?”, verse 28. So the people were tested by the manna, but failed the tests. Simple commands were flouted. First the command to gather, and then the command to not gather, just as Adam had the opportunity of gathering fruit from all trees except one, and of not gathering fruit from that one tree, so it is the same here.

The giving of the manna, therefore, gave Israel the opportunity to obey God’s commands, and by doing this they learned what it was to really live. So when the Lord quoted the words, He broke into the sentence, for the previous part about humbling them and seeing what was in their heart did not apply to Him. He was the perfect example of a man who lived by bread as to His bodily needs, but who lived by every word that came from His Father, as to His spiritual desires. And such was His appreciation of the spiritual, it completely outweighed the fact that the natural was not available. So binding did the Lord Jesus feel His Father’s will was that He described His word as commands, John 12:49. That is why His word to believers should be thought of as a commandment also, John 15:14, even though we are not under law but under grace, Romans 6:14.

No word had come to Him to turn stones into bread, and so He would not do it, either of His own will to satisfy a need, or in response to Satan’s temptation.

It is noticeable that the Devil has no answer to these responses, for the shield of faith quenches the fiery darts of the wicked, Ephesians 6:16. So there had been no word from the Father to turn stones into loaves, and there was no word from the Devil when He refused to do so. The Devil is confounded when met with total obedience to the will of God.

4:5 Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,

Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city- this is the only time that Matthew records the Lord Jesus going to Jerusalem before He went there to die. He did go there, of course, as the other gospels make clear, but Matthew does not mention it. The Lord will later on describe Jerusalem as the city of the Great King, but His own city does not acknowledge Him, and Matthew signals that by omitting any reference to Him going there. What he does do is call it the holy city, for despite its corruption, it is still the city destined to be the capital of the holy kingdom of Christ.

And setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple- this is a strange sight, the Lord of Glory being accompanied by the Prince of Darkness and standing together on the pinnacle in the temple. There is a direct confrontation between good and evil taking place here. The issues are awesome, for if the Devil succeeds he will virtually have unseated God from His throne, for He has just endorsed Jesus of Nazareth as His Beloved Son. If that Son fails, then God has endorsed failure.

The pinnacle of the temple was a high point on the temple walls overlooking the Kidron Valley. To simply stand at ground level and look down was awe-inspiring, but to stand on the heights of the temple walls and do the same, was to grow dizzy.

4:6 And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.

And saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down- this is a blatant attempt to cause the death of the Messiah by a means other than crucifixion. Again, the temptation is on the basis of the fundamental relationship between the Father and the Son. If this relationship can be fractured, then the Godhead is divided and falls. This is how critical these temptations are.

For it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee- notice the Devil quotes Scripture when it suits him, but in an underhanded way. The passage in question reads like this, “Because Thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, Thy habitation; There shall no evil befall Thee, neither shall any plague come nigh Thy dwelling. For He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee in all Thy ways. They shall bear Thee up in their hands, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt Thou trample under feet. Because He hath set His love upon Me, therefore will I deliver Him: I will set Him on high, because He hath known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer Him: I will be with Him in trouble; I will deliver Him, and honour Him. With long life will I satisfy Him, and show Him My salvation”, Psalm 91:9-16. The psalmist gives a long list of promises the Most High has made to the Messiah concerning His preservation, and all because He has made the Lord, who is the refuge of the psalmist, His refuge too. Those promises included a pledge to preserve Him in all His ways. There was no pathway the Messiah would tread that would cause Him to forfeit the protection of His God. Even the lion and the adder along the pathway would not be a threat to Him, for He would tread them underfoot. Remember that Mark tells us that the Lord was with the wild beasts in the wilderness, Mark 1:13, so the promises were very relevant to His current situation. The Lord knew these promises through familiar remembrance of them. But He also knew that they came to Him for a reason, namely, that He had made His God His refuge and His habitation. He was His refuge from the evil all around, and His habitation as He was constantly abiding in His love. It is in that context that the promises come. And it is that context, also, that the Devil’s temptations come. Can He be made to forfeit those promises? If He can, He has no guarantee that His God will protect Him, and He will be vulnerable to the Devil’s attacks.

And in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone- so the promise is of angelic protection. And it is of angelic protection at any time. But there is a fatal flaw in the Devil’s use of this scripture, and it is that the Messiah, given who He is, and given what His relationship with God is, will not act in any way which suggests He doubts whether the promise is true. In any case, there is nothing about hurling oneself recklessly from a high place like the pinnacle of the temple. The promise is that the angels will protect the Messiah from the slightest harm, even from knocking His foot against a stone in the path, such is the detailed care that is promised to Messiah. To leap over the pinnacle of the temple would only draw attention to Himself, and the Lord Jesus made Himself of no reputation. The Devil cannot understand humility, for he is full of pride.
Of course it is true that the prophet said, “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple”, Malachi 3:1, but it would not be by plunging from the pinnacle, but by entering in to the courts of the house of God in a dignified way to purge the sons of Levi.

Ancient Rabbinic literature states that “When the King the Messiah reveals Himself, then He will come and stand on the roof of the sanctuary”. This shows just how faulty the literature of the Jews can be, written, as it is, by those who reject Christ.

4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again- no scripture should be taken out of its context, nor should any scripture be thought to contradict another if it refers to the same period of time, or when God is working in the same way at different times. We need to be versed in the whole of Scripture, so that we may adjust our thinking about one verse, by what we know from another verse. If we do think there is a contradiction, then it is we who are wrong, and we have to think again in dependence on the Spirit of truth.

A previous verse in Psalm 91 had said that the Messiah would “not be afraid by the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day”, verse 5. So it is here, for the “fiery darts of the wicked”, Ephesians 6:16, are flying around Him, but the Lord stands His ground in the evil day, and quenches those fiery darts by the use of another scripture. The terrors of the wild beasts by night do not move Him, for He, like Daniel in the den of lions, acts in faith and dependance upon His God. See Hebrews 11:33.

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God- the word tempt is a metal-refiner’s word, and refers to the test to which metal is put to assess its genuineness. To leap from a dangerous height simply to test whether God is true to His word is something the Lord Jesus will never do, for He had every confidence in His Father’s care. He had the promise, “I will be His Father”, and He knew the prediction, “He shall be My Son”, 2 Samuel 7:14; Hebrews 1:5. In other words, His Father pledged to support Him as an ideal father would, and He would respond as an ideal son would.

The words quoted here come from Deuteronomy 6:16, which reads, “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah”. This is a reference to the way the nation of Israel murmured against God over the matter of the lack of water, and the place where they did this was named Massah, meaning “Temptation”. It is sad if any place on our Christian pilgrimage can be known as Massah, where we tempted the Lord in some way. It is good to rest on the goodness of God, and not doubt His provision for us.

Notice that in Deuteronomy the word is “Ye”, referring to the whole nation, whereas in the Lord’s quote He used the word “Thou”, meaning the individual. He had every right to make this change, being the Son of God. It does highlight the personal nature of the command. He magnified the law and made it honourable, Isaiah 42:21, so it was far from His thought to put God to the test.

4:8 Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain- it is fitting that the climax to the temptations in Matthew’s gospel should be the one on the mountain, for Matthew is the gospel of the king and His kingdom, and a mountain in Scripture is the symbol of a kingdom. In Luke, however, the climax is on the pinnacle of the temple, for Luke is the gospel of the preparation of Christ for His priestly work. But there is a contrast, for not only is the kingdom of Christ not of the Devil’s choosing, the temple at Jerusalem is not His place of ministry either. He is destined to rule on earth, but in the manner of God’s choice. He ministers as priest, not in an earthly sanctuary, but a heavenly, even “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man”, Hebrews 8:2.

When He was baptised, the Lord was in the lowest place on earth, the Jordan valley. Then He was taken up into the highest spot in the temple buildings. Now He is taken to the exceedingly high place. Satan is testing Him to see if there is anything in Him which desires the high place. But He constantly takes the low place in humility, even when on the high place geographically.

And sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them- if He is truly the King, would He not aspire to the whole world, and not just the land of Israel? This is how the Devil’s mind is working, and how it has worked from the beginning. He is the prince of this world, and has special interest in it, and his ambition is to control the world in such a way as to receive the worship of the whole human race.

Luke tells us that the Devil “shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time”. This indicates that all the kingdoms there have been since kingdoms began, after the scattering of the tower of Babel, were caused to pass before the eyes of Christ in succession. The reference to a moment of time introduces the time element, especially since really, there was only one kingdom at that time, for Caesar subdued the whole world.. It was after the scattering of men at Babel in Genesis 9, that God began to speak about nations in Genesis 10, for the idea of a nation is a safeguard against the unified world government that was attempted at Babel. This is still the case, and the attempts to amalgamate nations is a preparation for world-domination by the Antichrist.

4:9 And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.

And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me- the Devil will offer world-dominion to the Antichrist, on condition that he worship him, and give him what he craves. He longs to divert the worship of men from God to himself. The one great obstacle to this ambition is Christ. If He can be persuaded to worship him, the goal will be achieved, and there will be no need to raise up an Antichrist.

Note the audacity of Satan. He has tempted the Lord as Son of God, and found He will not succumb to his enticements. Now there is no mention of being the Son of God, but there is the last desperate attempt to cause Christ to fall by an appeal to vanity and self-seeking. He has tested men through the centuries, and found them all to be liable to pride; now however he has found one who is so different. Satan does not mind what he gives men, as long as they offer him their allegiance.

The first temptation was to turn a stone into bread and reach down to pick it up. Then the temptation was to hurl Himself down. Now the temptation is to fall down.

4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan- he discovers that not only is the Lord not interested in the glory of men’s kingdoms, He is not prepared to pay the price demanded either. He knows that at the appropriate moment He may apply to His Father, for He has said to Him, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”, Psalm 2:8. He will receive universal control one day, (for He shall have dominion “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth”, Psalm 72:8), but not from the Devil, but from His Father.

Note that in the gospel of the King, the command is “Get thee hence”, as he is dismissed from the presence of the Sovereign. In Luke’s gospel, the gospel of the priest and the worshipper, the word is, “Get thee behind Me, Satan”, the command of the devoted worshipper, refusing to allow anything or anyone to come between Himself and His God.
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve- the prophet-psalmist David foretold that He would say, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god…I have set the Lord always before Me”, Psalm 16:4,8. He went on to express His confidence that because He had done this, then His soul would not be left in hell, but He would be shewn the path of life, verses 10,11. The apostle Peter declared that Psalm 16 referred to Christ, and that He is risen from the dead. Acts 2:25-32. This shows that He did indeed set the Lord always before Him, and was not in any wise drawn away to other gods, or else He would not have been raised from the dead.

When God commanded the children of Israel not to worship or make other gods, He declared that He was a jealous God, Exodus 20:3-5, jealous for His own glory, and that of His Son. How perverse it would be if that Son were to worship another, for this would undermine the integrity and unity of the Godhead. This is what the Devil is aiming to do, but he fails totally.

We should remember that there is always a temptation with us to be diverted from the worship of God. The apostle John exhorted, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”, 1 John 5:21, and the apostle Paul wrote, “covetousness is idolatry”, Colossians 3:5, so the tendency is very real.

We also may be tempted to double-mindedness in relation to God, eager to worship and serve Him, but at the same time attracted to the glamour of this passing world. To those thus tempted, and who come to Him for help, there is the example of Christ’s resolute determination to serve God with undivided heart, and an equally resolute determination to resist the Devil.

Then again, we may be tempted to wonder whether God’s promises are really true, and begin to doubt Him. This temptation has come to our Saviour as well, but His firm rebuff to the Devil we may take up too, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord Thy God”. His word should be enough for us- “Hath He not spoken, and shall He not do it?”
God’s provision, God’s purpose, God’s promises- is there anything not covered by these three? Christ has been tempted in all points like as we are, and we may overcome as He overcame, by the right use of the Word of God, as we are led by the Spirit of God in ways that glorify God.

4:11 Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.

Then the devil leaveth Him- he obeys the command of Christ to get hence, for instead of gaining the upper hand, he has been completely defeated, and retires. Luke tells us that the devil left “for a season”, for His temptations did not begin or finish with the temptation in the wilderness. The word “season” means “an opportune time”, so the Devil leaves him until a time when he thought it to be opportune to return.

Throughout His life Christ was tested. As to the body He knew hunger, thirst, tiredness and pain. As to the soul He knew sadness, joy, a sense of anticipation, a sense of disappointment, and loneliness, rejection and trouble. As to the spirit He knew the unbelief of men, the slowness of His disciples to learn, but all the time He rejoiced in spirit that all things were in the Father’s hand. He knew, too, what it was to groan in spirit as He neared the grave of a friend, and the ravages that sin had wrought in the earth were borne in upon Him. Borne in upon Him also, the thought that soon He too was to be in the cold dark tomb.

And, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him- the ministry that Jacob, the father of the nation knew, He knew too. But with this difference. Jacob was ministered to by angels before his temptations, in order to strengthen him for the trial. See Genesis 28:12; 31:11; 32:1. However, it was after the temptation in the wilderness had been successfully dealt with by Christ that the angels came, as Matthew makes clear. He met the temptations, and overcame them, by the use of the same means as is available to believers, namely, the indwelling Spirit and the word of God.

The fact that angels ministered to Him shows also that even though He has become lower that the angels as to His manhood, He is still the Lord, and should be served. The angels who announced His birth to the shepherds called Him “Christ the Lord”, Luke 1:11. Not Christ your Lord, but Christ the Lord, so they recognised Him as Lord, even as a babe in the manger.

The Lord had fasted for forty days, totally absorbed with the Word of God and His constant conflict with Satan, and now, afterward, as Matthew tells us, He hungered. Just as an angel ministered to the bodily needs of Elijah after his conflict with the powers of evil on Mount Carmel, so too Christ, strained in body, soul and spirit by His great and critical conflict with the enemy, is ministered to by angels. No doubt each one had a special ministry for Him. He had refused to put God to the test by flinging Himself off the pinnacle, so the angels were not needed then; but they are needed now.

Special note on the relevance of Christ’s temptationIn Hebrews 2:17 we read that the Lord Jesus has been made in all things like unto His brethren. Because of this, He could be tempted in all points, (the word “things” is the same as “points” in 4:15), Hebrews 2:17, and thus suffer as a real man. Although His temptations are over, He has taken His sympathetic heart to heaven, and fully knowing what our trials are like, can minister just the help we need. Are we tempted to doubt God’s goodness? He has been tempted by the Devil in that regard. His suggestion that Christ should turn a stone into bread carried with it the implication that His Father had not been caring for Him enough. The promise to the Messiah was “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”, Hebrews 1:5, but the Devil suggested that the Father had not been true to His pledge, and had left His Son without resources.

We also may be tempted to be double-minded in regard to serving God, seeking to serve our own interests at the same time. To those thus tempted, and who come to Him for help, there is the example of Christ’s resolute determination to serve God with undivided heart, and an equally resolute determination to resist the Devil. Satan had positioned himself between Christ and His Father, but the Lord will not tolerate this, and commands the Devil to get behind him, clearly refusing to bow down to him. We should not let anything or anyone come between ourselves and our God.

Then again, we may be tempted to wonder whether God’s promises are really true, and begin to doubt Him. This temptation has come to our Saviour as well, but His firm rebuff to the Devil we may take up too, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord Thy God”. His word should be enough for us- “Hath He not spoken, and shall He not do it?” So the Lord refuses to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple simply to see whether God’s word is true or not.

God’s provision, God’s purpose, God’s promises- is there anything not covered by these three? Christ has been tempted in all points like as we are, and we may overcome as He overcame, by the right use of the Word of God, as we are led by the Spirit of God in ways that glorify God.

Special note on the beginning of Christ’s ministry
It is important to remember that the events recorded by John in chapters 1 to 4 of his gospel took place before the events recorded by Matthew from this point on. The same applies to Mark and Luke. It may be that a misunderstanding had occurred over this point, so John is careful to tell us, after he has recorded the miracle at Cana of Galilee, the return to Capernaum for a few days, the events at Passover time, (including His conversation with Nicodemus), and the return to Judea to baptise, that at that point John had not yet been cast into prison. Therefore if Matthew 4:12 tells us what Christ did when He heard John was cast into prison, we know that John’s details must come before.

(b) Verses 12-17 The transfer to Capernaum

4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee;

Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison- the imprisonment of John marks the moment when Christ’s general ministry began. Having been to Galilee for a few months, the Lord returns to Judea, near to where John the Baptist was. See John 3:22-24. So the end of John’s ministry and the start of Christ’s main ministry coincided. He will increase, and John will decrease, but the Lord ensures we know that their respective ministries were complementary and not competitive.

The fact that Matthew, Mark and Luke omit the first Galilean ministry means their record makes significant connections. In Matthew the temptation account is followed by the reference to the “Way of the Sea”, 4:15. This was the highway the Assyrians and Babylonians would have used to come to take Israel and Judah into captivity. But in His temptation the Lord refused these kingdoms from Satan, for most of them had been hostile to Israel. He refused to bow down to Satan and so commit idolatry, the sin that caused Israel to go into captivity. He had come to bring into freedom. Matthew also contrasts the character of these monarchs with Christ’s character, for He came to bring into the blessing of the light, not the misery of the darkness.

In Mark we find the prophesied messenger, John the Baptist, disappears from the record after just eight verses, (except that Mark gives a retrospective account of his execution in 6:14-29). So it is that the two greatest servants are found together briefly in the Servant Gospel, and then they are separated, (even though they both preach repentance in view of the imminent kingdom of heaven, Matthew 3:2; 4:17), so that we may concentrate on Christ’s ministry in grace.

In Luke we find the Lord Jesus refusing to hurl Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and then being taken by the men of Nazareth to cast Him down from the brow of the hill, Luke 4:29. The Devil had cunningly departed after the temptation, and then uses men to do his work. In the same way Balaam went his way, but taught Moab before he went how to ensnare the people after he had gone, Numbers 24:25; Revelation 2:14. When the Devil tempted Him to throw Himself down, He resisted. When men sought to do it, He passed through them and went His way. In both cases He overcame.

He departed into Galilee- this would most likely be to Nazareth, where He could spend a brief time with His mother and brothers and sisters. They had accompanied Him from the wedding in Cana of Galilee, John 2:12, but now the time has come to part. He will be the perfect example of what He taught, for He would say “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me”, Matthew 10:37. They only are worthy of Him who do as He would do.

4:13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

And leaving Nazareth- this means more than going away from a location, for He is distancing Himself from the place where He was brought up, and also where He was rejected in a hostile way, even by those who were in the synagogue and ought to have known better. The Lord is sovereign, but He does not force Himself on men. Later He will tell His disciples to leave a city that did not receive them, 10:14. He is the example in this too.

He came and dwelt in Capernaum- from now on, Capernaum will be His centre of operations, and from where He will begin His preaching circuits. The name Capernaum means “City of Nahum”, and he was the prophet who foretold the destruction of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians, who carried Israel away captive along “The Way of the Sea”.

Which is upon the sea coast- that is, the coast of the Sea of Galilee. At least four of the apostles were fishermen, (possibly more, John 21:2,3), and plied their trade in that sea.

In the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim- the district of Galilee included the territories allotted by Joshua to Zebulon and Naphtali.

4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

That it might be fulfilled- the formula Matthew uses here indicates that what happens is the final fulfilment of the prophecy.

Which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying- one of the purposes of Isaiah’s prophecy as a whole was to warn the people that if they engaged in idolatry, God would take them into captivity. This has special significance here because the road which went through both Nazareth and Capernaum was called “The Way of the Sea”, and was used by invading armies from Assyria and Babylon to take both the ten-tribed part of the nation and the two-tribed part into captivity. Isaiah refers to this, and its long-term remedy, in the passage he quotes.

The following is the context of the words referred to by Matthew:

Isaiah 8:13 “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread- the prophet exhorts the nation to fear God, and not fear the heathen armies that threatened them.

8:14 And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem- those who fear Him will be protected by Him, but those who do not will find He puts a stumblingblock in their way, preventing them from making an agreement with the enemy.

8:15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken- many will not make God their sanctuary, and shall be judged by being taken into captivity.

8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples- those who learn of God and His ways will be confirmed in their faith in Him and His promises.

8:17 And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him- Isaiah sets the example that others should follow if they wish to avoid judgement. The Lord is hiding His face from the whole house of Jacob, ten tribes and two tribes, but individuals like Isaiah may know the peace of His presence.

8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion- Isaiah’s two sons had significant names. One means “In making haste to the spoil he hasteneth the prey”, signifying that the enemy would come to spoil the land and take them captive as their prey. The other son’s name is more hopeful, for it means “The remnant shall return”. So the sign is a double one, that of judgement on unbelief, and the promise of hope for a remnant who, although taken captive to Babylon, may look forward to returning eventually. God is still the one who dwells in Zion, and has not abandoned His purpose to bless Israel in the Land.

8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? Many would go further than simply worshipping idols, but would seek to communicate with the demons behind the idols. This is a sin God must judge.

8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them- instead of listening to the mutterings of demons, they should consult the law of the Lord, which not only condemned their behaviour, but also gave testimony as to how they could return to God.

8:21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward- as they pass through the land on the way to captivity, far from turning in repentance to God, they shall curse Him as well as their king. Because of this they shall look heavenward in vain, for God has turned His face, as He said He would.

8:22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness- because they sought for light from the powers of darkness, (but “there is no light in them”), they will be judged by being sent into the land of heathen darkness where the idols rule.

9:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations- even though the experience in captivity would be traumatic for them, it would not be so harsh, (“the dimness shall not be as was in her vexation”), as the invasion of the land initially, whether it be by the Assyrians, “at the first”, or by the Babylonians, “afterward”. The prophet then details the areas most affected by the inroads of the enemy. Matthew employs the Rabbinic technique of adapting the words so as to bring out their meaning in a particular situation. He is not re-translating the words, but making an appropriate application of them.

9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined”- The nation that were deprived of the light of God’s presence because of their sin, now have the light shining on them again. The land had become the land of the shadow of death, because they never knew whether they were safe from invasion along The Way of the Sea. Now it is different, for Another has come along that road to bring them light and hope.

We now return to Matthew 4:15:

4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim- Nazareth was located in the territory of Zebulon. The word means “dwelling”, because Leah thought that by bearing Jacob six sons, of whom Zebulon was the sixth, she would endear herself to him, and he would be more inclined towards her. Interestingly, Matthew tells how “Joseph turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth”, Matthew 2:22,23. As a result of this, prophecy was fulfilled by them going into Nazareth, as Matthew goes on to show. He is now explaining how prophecy was fulfilled again when He left Nazareth.

Capernaum was in the territory of Naphtali on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee. It now becomes the centre of activity for Christ, and many of His mighty works will be done there, and He will also make it the starting-point of His preaching circuits.

By the way of the sea- this was a major route not only from Egypt but also from Babylonia. It swept inland from the Mediterranean coast, passed through Nazareth and Capernaum, and then went across the desert to Damascus, and so on to Babylon. In fact when Stephen quotes the prophecy of Amos, where God threatens the nation that He will “carry them away beyond Damascus”, Stephen, full of the Spirit, and using the technique accepted in the synagogue, changes this, by way of explanation, to “Babylon”. So it is established that “The Way of the Sea” is the way to Babylon, and in the case of Israel, the way into captivity in Babylon.

Beyond Jordan- the Assyrians also subdued this territory, the Eastern side of the Sea of Galilee which also saw activity by Christ as He crossed the Sea on various occasions.

Galilee of the Gentiles- because of its position on a major trade route, the area had been much influenced by Gentile culture, and so became known as Galilee of the Gentiles, not because it was governed by Gentiles, (it was in the jurisdiction of Herod, Luke 23:6,7), but because of the influences at work there. It is significant that the Lord should choose this part of the Land, for He ever longed to bless the Gentiles also. Simeon had said by the Spirit that Christ would be “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel”, Luke 2:32. Even though He came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He did not turn away Gentiles who came to Him.

It is interesting to notice that Isaiah mentions both Zebulon and Naphtali as being part of Galilee. When he was alive it was not so, for it was only after the captivity that Zebulon became incorporated into Galilee, and remained like that until Christ came.

4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

The people which sat in darkness saw great light- Matthew now sees the people as back in the land after the captivity. They are no longer walking as captives into Babylon, but sitting in the land. However, they are still in darkness. Perhaps there is a hint that because it is Galilee of the Gentiles now, the influence of heathen culture is strong. With the coming of Christ great light dawned upon them, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and fear. The light is that of “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”, 2 Corinthians 4:6. A great light indeed.

And to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up- those who looked fearfully down The Way of the Sea, wondering whether the enemy was about to invade again, and thus sat in the shadow of death, found that a mightier conqueror had come from the opposite direction, with an opposite intention. Instead of the darkness of a miserable captivity, there was the prospect of a bright hope. John the Baptist’s father said that “the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace”, Luke 1:78,79. So both Zecharias and Matthew see the fulfilment of Isaiah 9:2 in Christ. The dayspring is normally the dawn, as the sun rises above the horizon, but this is different, for it is from on high, from heaven.

We could contrast the coming of the Assyrian on the Way of the Sea to the coming of Christ along the same road:

1. The Assyrians were noted for their cruelty, but Christ is noted for His gentleness and kindness.

2. The Assyrians came to bring the darkness of despair, but Christ brought the light of God’s glory.

3. The Assyrians came to destroy, but Christ came to save.

4. The Assyrians came as the expression of God’s anger towards the people, whereas Christ came as the expression of God’s love and grace.

5. The Assyrians came to take into captivity, but Christ came to “preach deliverance to the captives”, Luke 4:18.

6. The Assyrians brought fear, but Christ is the Prince of peace.

7. The Assyrians came to deprive Israel of their earthly inheritance, but Christ came to bring into a spiritual inheritance.

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

From that time Jesus began to preach- His visit to Galilee before had been more personal, at the marriage in Cana, and speaking to Nicodemus; now He begins His preaching. Even though at His baptism He was anointed to preach, He has waited for John to be imprisoned, lest it be thought that John’s ministry needed to be supplemented. The fact is that John’s ministry was the last of the law-age, but Christ had come in grace, and they must not be confused.

And to say, Repent- just because He came in grace it did not mean He would not condemn men’s sins. He came with the same message in that regard as John did, Matthew 3:1,2. The light not only shone in blessing, but also to expose men’s sins. They must turn from them if they are to enter the kingdom of heaven. They had been taught by the Rabbis that if they were descended from Abraham and had been circumcised, they were sure of entering the kingdom. Now they have to learn otherwise, for the question of sin must be dealt with.

Repentance is a change of mind about self, sin, Christ, and God. It is a rejection of self and results in a turning from sins. John challenged his hearers to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, 3:8. If there are no results, then there has been no repentance. If there is no repentance, there will be no entry into the kingdom.

For the kingdom of heaven is at hand- The Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come”, 6:10, so it is going to arrive. It is not heaven, but heaven’s rule on the earth, so that God’s will as done in heaven, and God’s will as done on earth, will coincide. The kingdom of heaven is not the kingdom consisting of heaven, (any more than the kingdom of God is the kingdom consisting of God), but is the sphere of those who profess to know God. That some who are in this kingdom are not genuine believers is seen from the fact that some “sons of the kingdom” are cast out into outer darkness, Matthew 8:12.

As for the kingdom of God, only true believers are found there, whereas some who are in the kingdom of heaven are not true believers. As the Lord said to Nicodemus, “Except ye be born again, ye cannot see the kingdom of God”, John 3:3. It is this truth that is one of the major mysteries of the kingdom, as set out in parable form in Matthew 13, for the Jews thought they were in the kingdom because they were Jews.

Here the Lord warns the people that the kingdom of heaven is just about to appear, if they will prepare themselves for it. In the event, however, instead of welcoming the King, they crucified Him. As events unfold, and as we read the rest of the New Testament, we discover that it was always God’s intention to insert a period of time between the crucifixion of Christ and His coming to set up His kingdom on earth. A reading of Ephesians 3 will show that the present church age is that period.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW CHAPTER 4, VERSES 18 TO 25:

4:18 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.

4:19 And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.

4:21 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 them.

4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.

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.

4:24 And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.

4:25 And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

(c) Verses 18-22 The turning-point for the apostles

Special note on the call of the apostles
There are five stages to the call of the apostles, as follows:

1. As disciples of John they had been baptised with his baptism, and as such had been called to repentance.

2. When John announced Christ as the Lamb of God, they were attracted to Him, for they realised that He was the long-promised Messiah. they left John and followed Jesus, John 1:37. This was their call to personal faith in Him. They already believed in God, but now they believed also in Him, John 14:1.

3. In the incident we are about to consider, we shall find that they are called to follow Him. They leave their fishing temporarily.

4. In Luke 5:1-11, (assuming it to be a different incident to the one here), they hear a call to catch men, (meaning to evangelise), and they forsake all and follow Him.

5. In Matthew 10:1-4 they are called to apostleship with its consequent responsibilities.

4:18 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 Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother- it is very probable that when the Lord Jesus moved to live in Capernaum, Peter invited Him to stay in his house. We read that when they left the synagogue on one occasion, they went straight to Peter’s house, which was also the house of Andrew his brother, 8:14 with Mark 1:29.

Andrew and Peter had no doubt followed the Lord when He went to Cana of Galilee as recorded in John 1:43-2:11. Then they followed Him to Capernaum, John 2:12. As devout worshippers they were found in Jerusalem with Him at Passover time, John 2:17. They no doubt went with Him to Judea to baptise near to where John the Baptist was, 3:22, and then followed Him as He went through Samaria, 4:8,27. Presumably they returned with Him to Galilee, 4:45.

Casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers- they may well have returned home to ply their trade sometimes in between these events. This is the first time we have been told how they made a living. They are industrious and brave men, and energy and bravery are going to be needed in later days as they go into the world to preach. They are busy men, and the Lord cannot use lazy people. The apostle Paul exhorts us to “Be not slothful in business”, Romans 12:11. Elisha was called when he was busy ploughing, 1 Kings 19:19.

4:19 And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men- here is their call to catch men. As they well knew, fishing took skill, persistence, courage and resilience. These are the qualities that are needed in evangelism. It was also a trade where success and disappointment were both experienced, and they would know these feelings also as they went forth with the gospel. Only the Lord Himself, the Supreme Evangelist, can make them into fishermen of this sort. They would later learn that partial obedience results in calamity, for the Lord commanded Peter to cast nets into the sea, and he only cast one. It was no surprise that the net brake, Luke 5:4-6. They would also learn that to be successful, they must fish at His direction, or else they will toil all night and catch nothing, John 21:1-6.

4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.

And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him- here are other features that evangelists need, quickness to respond, and commitment to Him. It is the Person who calls them who is the incentive, not the work itself, as if it is a career.

4:21 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 them.

And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother- these four men are used to working together, for they are all partners in the same fishing business, Luke 5:7,9. Taking all these characteristics together, they are fit men to follow Christ and carry out His bidding.

In a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them- James and John would be used to obeying the bidding of Zebedee their father. And because there were hired servants in the business, too, Mark 1:20, they would be used to organising others to get the work done. They were mending their nets, showing they had the skill to catch fish successfully, even to the point where the nets could not stand the weight of the fish. They are called from a profitable business to follow and serve Christ. It will take self-sacrifice to do this, for He guarantees them no wages down here. When Elisha obeyed the call of God, he took a pair of oxen and slew them, (was it the pair he was ploughing with?), made a fire of the yokes, and cooked the meat and then gave it to others. He was finished with his former life, and was now dedicated to serve God and also do good to men, 1 Kings 19:19-21.

4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.

And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him- as with Peter and Andrew there was an immediate response to the call. This is not their call to salvation, but to service. Matthew is careful to tell us they left their father. This assures us that they did not leave their parents destitute, for Zebedee was able to carry on the business, assisted by his hired servants. It also tells us that these brothers are prepared to put the Lord first even before their own father. The Lord would say to these men later on, “Whoso loveth father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me”, Matthew 10:37. But He also insisted that children should care for their parents, and not make the service of God an excuse for neglecting them, Mark 7:10-13.

So we are introduced to two sets of brothers, the nucleus that will later form the apostolic band. Just as David had His mighty men, to the greater King has His men, ready to fight for Him in a spiritual battle. These four are seen again together on the Mount of Olives when the discourse on the end times is given, and the King tells the events prior to His coming to sit on His throne of glory; it is these four men that are with Him, Mark 13:3. Zechariah tells us that God is going to bring the third part of the nation of Israel through the fires of tribulation to enter the kingdom, Zechariah 13:9. So significantly, on a mountain, (symbolising the kingdom), and that the Mount of Olives, (reminding us His kingdom will not only be literal, but also spiritual), there is found with Christ one third of the apostles, representing the preserved remnant of Israel.

Special note on miracles
The remaining verses of this chapter are a summary by Matthew of the teaching and miracle-working ministry of the Lord Jesus. It is a suitable place, therefore, to consider these two aspects of Christ’s work. Luke links them together when he opens his second book, the Acts of the Apostles, and writes, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach”, Acts 1:1. And John writes of “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes”, 1 John 1:1. So there is a close connection between what He did, (“which we have seen with our eyes”), and what He taught, (“which we have heard”).

The Lord Jesus linked the two together in John 15, as follows:

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin- in the context the sin referred to here must be the “know not Him that sent Me”, of the previous verse. It was excusable for men to not know God as Father, and as the Sender of the Son, until He actually came. But after He has come and explained His relationship with God, they have no excuse for not knowing the Father. As John wrote, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him”, John 1:18. Now that the declaration has been fully made, there is no reason why men should not know the Father.

But now they have no cloak for their sin- they are exposed as unbelievers, and their sin stands fully revealed, for the Father has been fully made known and they have not received it. Nothing they might do or say can disguise this plain fact. If Christ could not give proofs of His Deity, they were right to hate Him, for He would have been a rival to their God. To recognise His claim to Deity was in their eyes to say there was another god apart from the God of Israel, and would constitute Him one who said, “Let us go after other gods”, Deuteronomy 13:2. All such were to be put to death in Israel. But it is otherwise, so they are guilty of the sin of rejecting Him.

15:23 He that hateth Me hateth My Father also.

He that hateth Me hateth My Father also- because the Father is fully manifested by the Son, He being equal with Him, John 5:18; 10:33, and one with Him, then to hate Him is to hate the one He represents, so united are they in essence and aim. And when He came and spoke to them, He made this relationship very clear so that they knew what they were doing when they hated Him. They were hating the God of Israel! No amount of religious observance can cloak that sin; it stands exposed in all its wickedness. Something of the hurt the Son felt because of this is seen in that He calls the Father “My Father”.

15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did- just as in John 14 there was a vital link between words and works, so here. In that chapter the Lord said to them, “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake”, verse 11. So the works demonstrated that He was “in the Father”, meaning that He had an unique relationship with Him, for there is no point at which they diverge, whether it be in nature, character, will, or action. The Father is in Him in the sense that all that the Father is and does is expressed perfectly in the Son. To see and know one is to see and know the other.

When the Old Testament prophets worked miracles, as they occasionally did, they were not demonstrating that they were one with God. They simply carried out His directions, and were given the power by Him to do the miracle. But when the Son worked miracles at Passover time, John 2:23, He was showing Himself equal to the one who did signs in Egypt before the Israelites were brought out. When He healed the impotent man on the Sabbath day, John 5:8,9, He was affirming that just as God worked on the Sabbath, so did He. When He fed the five thousand, John 6:11, He was showing that just as God in the Old Testament gave them manna in the wilderness, so He could do the same. Just as God made man with eyes at the beginning, so could He give a man his eyesight back, perhaps by making Him eyes from clay, John 9:6,7,32. And just as God quickened the dead in the Old Testament, so He can do the same, John 11:41-44. He was justified in saying, therefore, that they were works that none other man did, even though Moses and Aaron brought the plagues over the land of Egypt, and Elisha fed the prophets, and Elijah raised the dead.

They had not had sin- here is the same expression as in verse 22. There it was in connection with the words He had spoken; here to do with the works He had done. This is to be expected, for His works were visible representations of His words. So the healing of the impotent man is expounded in the rest of John 5, and the feeding of the five thousand is explained in the rest of John 6. To see the works was to see an exposition of the words, and to not believe in the one or the other was to sin. It is not, of course, that before He came they were sinless, but that they had not had opportunity to reject His words and works. Now they have had that opportunity, and rejected Him, they stand convicted.

But now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father- they saw the miracles, and they saw what He meant by His doctrine, but rejected both, and responded to them with hatred towards Him, which was the same as hatred towards His Father who was doing the works through Him. As He said, “but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works”, John 14:10.

The primary purpose for the miracles, then, was to demonstrate the unity between the Father and the Son. As He Himself said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work”, John 5:17. John tells us that the reason he records his selection of the miracles, is “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing ye might have life through His name”, John 20:31.

Another purpose was to demonstrate the love and kindness of God. As Peter said to Cornelius, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him”, Acts 10:38. His only miracle of judgement was on a fig tree. For men there was nothing but kindness.

A third reason for the miracles was to demonstrate that He was indeed the promised Messiah. The prophets had told of the Messiah as one who would come to bring in what the Jews called “the age to come”, when He would reign over them from Jerusalem. Hebrews 6:5 describes the miracles of Christ as the “powers of the world (age) to come”. Isaiah had written that in the time of the kingdom, “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as the hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing”, Isaiah 35:5,6. The fact that these things did indeed happen when Christ was here, is positive proof that He is the Messiah.

When He comes to reign, the bondage of corruption that currently holds creation in its grip will be removed, and the curse God was forced to pronounce on everything because of Adam’s fall, will be removed, see Romans 8:19-21. The miracles of the Lord Jesus were works of power and restoration, showing Him to be competent to deliver creation in a day to come.

The miracles of Christ were also a demonstration that His power was superior to the power of the devil. As we have already noticed, Peter described those the Lord healed as being “oppressed of the devil”, Acts 10:38. He did not mean that they were all demon-possessed, but that, as a result of the fall of man, brought about by the cunning of the devil, creation has been disrupted, and disease is the result. Those who blame God when they are ill should look elsewhere for the cause. The apostle John wrote, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”, 1 John 3:8. Whilst the main thought in this verse is the matter of sins, nevertheless the diseases of men come into the category of “works of the devil”.

But what exactly are miracles? These may be defined as “exceptions to normal events, which occur due to the intervention of a power beyond natural power”. We must beware of devaluing the word miracle by using it of happenings which are either simply out of the ordinary, or merely coincidences, or take place at a particularly opportune moment. We must also beware of labelling as miraculous events which would have occurred anyway. An example of this would be illnesses that are known to go into remission naturally. Nor does an event become a miracle because it is an answer to prayer.

So we may say that a miracle is an event beyond the normal, with an effect beyond the usual, giving expression to things beyond the natural.

The apostle Peter coupled three words together in the phrase “miracles and wonders and signs”, Acts 2:22. The second of these words expresses the effect the miracle had upon those involved. At best, in the case of miracles wrought by Christ and the apostles, those around would be constrained to believe on the Lord Jesus. As He said in John 14:11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake”. (Note that belief in Himself is the goal in each case; it is not “believe Me or else believe the works”). At worst, there were those who responded to Christ’s miracles by wanting to make Him king simply because He could multiply loaves. He withdrew from such, John 6:15.

Peter also referred to miracles as signs, which reminds us that the miracles had a lesson to teach, they had sign-ificance. They were not simply acts of mercy and compassion, but doctrine made visible in vivid ways. We see this for instance in John 6, where the Lord’s long discourse on the Bread of Life is based on His miracle of feeding the five thousand.

(d) Verses 23-25 The territory His ministry affected

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.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues- it was the custom to ask a visiting preacher to address the synagogue, if the rulers had confidence in him, and this is the case here.

And preaching the gospel of the kingdom- as He will explain in the parable of the sower, the kingdom is not going to be established by force of arms. It is the sowing of the seed of the word of the kingdom that produces those who are fit for that kingdom, Matthew 13:19.

And healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people- the miracles the Lord Jesus did are called the powers of the age to come, (a reference to the time when the Lord Jesus shall reign on the earth), and He is here demonstrating that He is the Coming King, and nothing is too hard for Him. He does not mix with the men in palaces, but is among the people, for they are potentially His subjects.

The word sickness emphasises the badness of the condition, whereas the word disease has the idea of a condition that weakens.

4:24 And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.

And His fame went throughout all Syria- this was a territory extending from the north of Galilee right up to the river Euphrates. David had extended his kingdom this far, 2 Samuel 8:3, but he had done it by warfare, whereas Christ’s conquests were over the hearts of men. He did not need to advance with an army to gain a victory, like David, for the people were attracted to Him and came to Him.

The word fame is used of both David and Solomon. Of David it is said, “And the fame of David went out into all lands; and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations”, 1 Chronicles 14:17. And it is said of Solomon. “For he was wiser than all men…and his fame was in all nations round about”, 1 Kings 4:31. So the fame of David was because of his power, the fame of Solomon because of his wisdom. But these two things combine in a better way in Christ, for He is the power and wisdom of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24. So the influence of David and Solomon extended to the Euphrates river, as God had promised to Abraham, Genesis 15:18. So this also shall be the extent of the land under the Messiah, but He shows His moral right to govern by the influence for good He had upon men as they came to Him.

And they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments- we read of David that he said, “‘Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain’. Wherefore they said, ‘The blind and the lame shall not come into the house'”, 2 Samuel 5:8. So we learn that David despised the lame and the blind, those who could not fight. It is noteworthy that this attitude of David is omitted in the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 11:4-6. This is because the Books of Chronicles were written by Ezra to encourage the remnant of Israel that had returned to the land. He records only the history of the kings of Judah, those who sat upon the throne of David, and omits those features about them that were not like Christ.

When the Lord Jesus was in the temple just before He died, Matthew tells us that “the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them”, Matthew 21:14. So whereas David hated the blind and the lame, and banned them from the temple, the Lord Jesus was the opposite. Furthermore, there were two pairs of blind men that appealed to the Lord Jesus, Matthew 9:27; 20:30,31. On both occasions they called Him Son of David. They had come to know that His attitude to the blind was different to David’s, even though He was heir to David’s throne.

And those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them- notice that Matthew carefully distinguishes between the demon-possessed and the lunatick. He is the only one to use the word lunatick. The latter word is based on the word for the moon, and would refer to the fact that those who are mentally deranged are affected by the phases of the moon. So one is controlled by the devil, and the other is influenced by the moon, yet Christ’s power is superior to both.

The word palsy is “paralutikos”, which literally means “loosened, relaxed, enfeebled”. Such a person is totally helpless, as is seen in the incident when four friends brought a man sick of the palsy to Christ, Matthew 9:1-8. When He forgave him his sins, and the scribes were shocked, He healed the man of his palsy as well, “that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins”, verse 6. The powerless man becomes the means of displaying Christ’s power, not only in the physical realm but also in the spiritual. This is the sort of King the Lord Jesus is, with authority over everything.

4:25 And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan- coupled with Syria in verse 24, this is the territory of the kingdom of David and Solomon, and gives a foretaste of a coming day when the true King will reign. There is a noticeable omission of Samaria, perhaps because that was the centre of the ten-tribed part of the nation who broke away from Judah and Benjamin. Does Matthew in this way show his disapproval of them, just as he did of certain kings in chapter 1?

So Christ attracted all sorts of men to Himself. There were the sophisticated city-dwellers of Jerusalem, and the rustic country-dwellers of Galilee. There were the legalistic men from Jerusalem and Judea, and those whose attitude was more spiritual in Galilee. Whosever they were, and wherever they came from, Christ had time for them, and sought both their spiritual welfare and their physical good.