Lord Jesus, thank You for defeating Satan on my behalf, and inviting me into Your kingdom if I simply come to You in poorness of spirit. Thank You that the kingdom of heaven is available to people from all cultures, backgrounds, and nations. Help me accurately reflect Your perfections in my life. Help me live as salt and light in this world, so all people would glorify the Father. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Matthew 4-5
Matthew 4:1–11 As God’s Son and the true Israel, Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations in the wilderness. This victory over Satan shows the superior power of God’s Spirit. Remember that in the garden God’s son Adam failed; the wilderness generations of Israel failed; even Israel’s greatest kings failed—every one of them. To the present day, we have all failed in this battle to resist every temptation. But God’s beloved Son, Jesus, has succeeded. Believers rejoice in Jesus’ victory over Satan on their behalf, and by the power of the Holy Spirit they have the will to fight temptations like Jesus did, with the Word of God.
Matthew 4:12–25 Jesus’ ministry to all peoples has a simple, solitary message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus initiates and calls people, and some of them immediately leave everything to follow Him—and these repentant people become ambassadors to bring in more people. The kingdom of heaven has dawned with the coming of Jesus, but it’s not yet fully achieved; all the effects of Adam’s fall have yet to be reversed forever. That will come only when Jesus returns at the end of time.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
See below for helpful information about The Kingdom of God
Matthew 5:1–16 The Sermon on the Mount begins. Those who follow Jesus are heirs of the King and kingdom. Their lives are personally and publicly blessed. The beatitudes highlight the blessings of reflecting King Jesus, as well as being rejected for King Jesus. Yet, as with Abraham, God’s blessing is not meant to end with the blessed. Instead, followers of Jesus are to be God’s instruments to bless others. So, insofar as we are blessed in Jesus, we should seek to be salt and light in this world.
IF YOUR EYE CAUSES YOU TO SIN…
In these verses, Jesus uses exagerration to make His point. But His point is clear: don’t play around with temptation.
Matthew 5:17–48 The entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ as its fulfillment. He fulfilled the Law and offers His righteousness to all those who have trusted in Him. Only Jesus’ perfect righteousness will allow someone to enter the kingdom of heaven. At the same time, He calls us to an even higher standard than the Law: to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
12 ‘Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 ‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.’ 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
- The Beatitudes reflect God’s values and His kingdom culture, that is, the new lifestyle believers choose to adopt when they follow Jesus. They also tell us about God’s character, and explain the ways Jesus’ life as God’s representative seemed surprisingly weak and vulnerable. Reading through these blessings, it’s useful to ask: which blessings remain hard for you to embrace? Are there any opposing worldviews or values you might need to reject in order to follow Jesus’ way wholeheartedly?
- Jesus claims not just that there is a blessing in being poor in spirit, meek, or simple, but that those who live this way are at the center of the kingdom of God. Remember, we define “kingdom” as God’s rule and reign. How can this influence the way you understand the gospel, your social standing, and the way God is building a new reality?
- Jesus experienced temptation yet completely overcame it by knowing and using God’s Word. With Jesus’ help and God’s Word, we too can learn to fight the enemies’ lies. Think about key areas where you tend to believe Satan’s lies, and work with a fellow believer to identify both how Jesus gives victory over that area and what specific verses you could use as you fight against temptation.
- Spend an extra 15 minutes one day this week meditating on some part of today’s reading or your Scripture memory. Record any further insights. [Spiritual Disciplines]