Matthew 4 - The Temptation of Jesus and His First Galilean Ministry

 

A. Jesus is tempted in the wilderness.

 

1. (1-2) Jesus is led to the place of temptation.

 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

 

a. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted: After identifying with sinners in His baptism, Jesus then identified with them again in severe temptation. This was a necessary part of His ministry, so He truly was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness.

 

i. It was a remarkable contrast between the glory following Jesus' baptism and the challenge to be tempted by the devil.

 

·        Then the cool waters of the Jordan; now the barren wilderness.

·        Then the huge crowds; now solitude and silence.

·        Then the Spirit rests like a dove; now the Spirit drives Him into the wilderness.

·        Then the voice of the Father calling Him "Beloved Son"; now the hiss of Satan the tempter.

·        Then anointed; now attacked.

·        Then the water of baptism; now the fire of temptation.

·        First the heavens opened; now hell.

 

ii. Jesus did not need to be tempted to help Him grow. Instead, He endured temptation both so that He could identify with us (Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15), and to demonstrate His own holy, sinless character.

 

iii. The Holy Spirit cannot tempt us (James 1:13), but the Holy Spirit may lead us to a place where we will be tempted. This is not to prove something to God (who knows all things), but to prove something to us and to the spiritual beings watching us.

 

b. Tempted by the devil: Temptation is a certainty for everyone. Yet Jesus' temptation was more severe. It was more severe because He was tempted directly by the devil himself, while we contend mainly with lesser demons. It was also more severe because there is a sense in which temptation is "relieved" by giving in, and Jesus never did yield. Therefore He bore levels of temptation we will never know by experience.

 

i. Many commentators believe it is improper to refer to this section as the temptation of Jesus, because the word peirazo is more often and more accurately translated testing instead of temptation. "Peirazein has a quite different element in its meaning. It means to test far more than it means to tempt in our sense of the word." (Barclay)

 

ii. "Luther's remark stands true, that prayer, meditation, and temptation, are the three best instructors of the gospel minister." (Spurgeon)

 

c. He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry: Matthew points out both the barren desert (the Judean wilderness was and is exactly that), and Jesus' severe physical condition after such a long fast. It is said that when hunger pains return after such a fast (He was hungry), it indicates the subject is beginning to starve to death.

 

i. "Here was the Divine power miraculously seen, in upholding the human nature of Christ without any thing to eat: this was a miracle." (Poole) Yet it was a miracle also evident in the lives of Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8). It was supernatural, but not beyond human capacity when enabled by the Spirit of God.

 

d. Forty days and forty nights: This is a familiar period of testing in the Bible, both in the days of Noah and for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus will succeed where Israel as a nation failed.

 

i. "Our Saviour was tempted all that forty days' space, saith St. Luke; but these three worst assaults were reserved to the last."

 

ii. This wasn't self-denial just for the sake of self-denial, or worse yet for the sake of building spiritual pride. This was a period of forced dependence upon God the Father. We remember: He learned obedience through the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

 

2. (3-4) The first temptation: an appeal to the lust of the flesh.

 

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

 

a. When the tempter came: Notice that Matthew writes when the tempter came. In our lives, it is not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will face temptation until we go to glory.

 

i. "But let us do what we will, we shall be tempted. God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without temptation." (Spurgeon)

 

ii. We should consider the circumstances that preceded the temptation of Jesus:

 

·        He was in an especially devout frame of mind before His temptation.

·        He was engaged in an act of public obedience to His Father's will before His temptation.

·        He was in an exceedingly humble frame of mind before His temptation.

·        He was blessed by a heavenly assurance of His Sonship before His temptation.

·        He was filled with the Holy Spirit before His temptation.

·        He was completely separated from the world before His temptation.

 

b. If You are the Son of God: The question asked by Satan is more literally "since You are the Son of God," instead of "if You are the Son of God." Satan did not question Jesus' deity; he challenged Him to prove it or demonstrate it through miraculous works.

 

c. Command that these stones become bread: This was a temptation to use God's gifts for selfish purposes. Satan suggested that Jesus use His miraculous powers to provide food for Himself.

 

i. "Sonship of the living God, he suggested, surely means Jesus has the power and right to satisfy his own needs." (Carson)

 

ii. This wasn't a temptation to miraculously create great riches or luxuries, only bread. The Bible has many accounts of miraculous provision, some at the hands of Jesus. Yet Jesus would not command that these stones become bread, especially at the instigation of Satan.

 

iii. We might say that Jesus was being tested through His strengths, through His gifts. Would He allow His strengths to become traps?  "He bids the Lord prove his Sonship by catering for himself; and yet that would have been the surest way to prove that he was not the Son of God." (Spurgeon) We could say that the same temptation came to Jesus on the cross (Matthew 27:40).

 

d. But He answered: Jesus didn't silently disagree with Satan, He answered him - and He answered him from the Word of God. When Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus shows that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God should be more precious to us than food itself.

 

i. What Satan suggested made sense - "Why starve yourself to death?" But what is written makes even more sense.

 

ii. "Hunger represents human wants, and the question was: whether Sonship was to mean exemption from these, or loyal acceptance of them as part of the Messiah's experience." (Bruce)

 

iii. It isn't that Jesus refused supernatural help in feeding Himself; He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought Him when the time of testing was over (Matthew 4:11). It wasn't a matter of refusing supernatural help; it was a matter of submitting to His Father's timing and will in all things.

 

e. It is written: By relying on the power and truth of God's Word, Jesus was willing to fight this battle as a man; He could have easily rebuked Satan into another galaxy, but resisted him in a way that we can imitate and identify with.

 

i. Jesus used Scripture to battle Satan's temptation, not some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. Jesus fought this battle as fully man, and He drew on no "special resources" unavailable to us. "Out flashed the sword of the Spirit: our Lord will fight with no other weapon. He could have spoken new revelations, but chose to say, 'It is written.'" (Spurgeon)

 

ii. He could have stood against Satan with a display of His own glory; He could have stood against Satan with logic and reason. Instead, Jesus used the word of God as a weapon against Satan and temptation.

 

·        He used a weapon that one can use when they are all alone.

·        He used a weapon to defend His Sonship.

·        He used a weapon to defeat temptation.

·        He used a weapon that was effective because He understood it.

 

ii. We effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan's seductive lies by shining the light of God's truth upon them. If we are ignorant of God's truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation.

 

3. (5-7) The second temptation: an appeal to the pride of life.

 

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"

 

a. If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down: Satan tempted Jesus to "force" the Father into a supernatural event. Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly demonstrated.

 

i. Set Him on the pinnacle of the temple: The pinnacle of the temple arose some 200 feet from the floor of the Kidron Valley. A leap from there, and the appearance of the promised angelic protection, would be a remarkable spectacle.

 

ii. "The devil's suggestions was of an artificially created crisis, not of trusting God in the situations which result from obedient service." (France)

 

iii. "This was the very method that the false Messiahs who were continually arising promised…These pretenders had offered sensations which they could not perform. Jesus could perform anything he promised. Why should he not do it?" (Barclay)

 

iv. Jesus just had this kind of spectacular demonstration at His baptism (Matthew 3:17), but that must have seemed far away after forty days and nights of fasting in the wilderness.

 

b. For it is written: The devil can use this phrase also. We can trust that the devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Here the devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, and took it out of its context to say, "Go ahead, Jesus; if You do this the Bible promises angels will rescue You, and it will be spectacular self-promotion."

 

i. "Satan borrowed our Lord's weapon, and said, "It is written'; but he did not use the sword lawfully. It was not in the nature of the false fiend to quote correctly. He left out the necessary words, 'in all thy ways': thus he made the promise say what in truth it never suggested." (Spurgeon)

 

·        This text is falsely quoted, because the devil left out the words, "To keep you in all your ways." To test God in this way was not of Jesus' way; it was not of the way of the Savior or Messiah. "God had never promised, nor ever given, any protection of angels in sinful and forbidden ways." (Poole)

·        This text is wrongly applied, because it was not used to teach or encourage, but instead to deceive. "Making this word a promise to be fulfilled upon Christ's neglect of his duy; extending the promise of special providence as to dangers into which men voluntarily throw themselves." (Poole)

 

ii. Jesus understood from His knowledge of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) that Satan was twisting this passage from Psalm 91. Jesus knew how to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Sadly, many are willing to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible today. A preacher can pretty much say whatever he wants if he quotes a few proof-texts, and people will assume that he really speaks from the Bible. It is important for each Christian to know the Bible for themselves, and not to be deceived by someone who quotes the Bible but not accurately or with correct application.

 

c. It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Jesus replied with Scripture, but applied correctly. He knew that attempting to force or manipulate God the Father into such a demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid.

 

i. This warns us against demanding something spectacular from God to prove His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more "spectacular" than that.

 

ii. "The focus is again on his relationship to God. As Son of God, he could surely claim with absolute confidence the physical protection which God promises in Psalm 91:11-12…The Son of God can live only in a relationship of trust which needs no test." (France)

 

4. (8-10) The third temptation: an appeal to the lust of the eyes.

 

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

 

a. All these things I will give You: Essentially, this vision invited Jesus to take a shortcut around the cross. Jesus came to win all the kingdoms of the world and their glory back from Satan's domain, and Satan offers them to Jesus, if He will only fall down and worship him.

 

i. It again may seem a small thing; Jesus could lay claim to all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and do so without enduring the cross. "The danger is greatest when the end is good." (Bruce)

 

ii. All He would have to do is give Satan what he has been longing for ever since he fell from glorious to profane: worship and recognition from God Himself. This is a revealing insight into Satan's heart; worship and recognition are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He is still the one who said I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

 

iii. "If the words, all the kingdoms of the world, be taken in a literal sense, then this must have been a visionary representation, as the highest mountain on the face of the globe could not suffice to make evident even one hemisphere of the earth, and the other must of necessity be in darkness." (Clarke)

 

iv. If we can't exactly say how Satan showed Jesus this, we can say with some certainty what Satan did not show Jesus: "Satan offers the kingdoms of the world and their 'splendor' without showing their sin." (Carson)

 

b. I will give You: Evidently, Satan has authority over this world and its governments. The temptation could not have been real unless there is some real sense that Satan does "possess" all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

 

i. Adam and his descendants gave the devil this authority. God gave Adam the earth as a stewardship (Genesis 1:28-30), and Adam willingly turned it over to Satan. After that, all Adam's descendants cast their vote of approval by their personal sin.

 

ii. Of course, ultimately, all things belong to God; but God allows Satan to function as the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) for a purpose. This is why the fallen world is in the mess it is.

 

iii. "The tempter does not dare to mention Sonship in this case; for that would have laid the blasphemous suggestion too bare. No son of God can worship the devil." (Spurgeon)

 

c. Away with you, Satan! For it is written: Jesus replied with Scripture again, and commanded the devil to leave. In the same way we can resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). It worked for Jesus (Then the devil left Him) and it will work for us.

 

i. "The word of God hath a power in it to quail and to quash Satan's temptations, far better than that wooden dagger, that leaden sword of the Papists, their holy water, crossings, grains, dirty relics…It is not the sign of the cross, but the word of the cross, that overthrows Satan." (Trapp)

 

ii. The temptations of Jesus also remind us that it is no sin to be tempted, as long as the temptation is resisted. Even horrible temptations - Jesus was tempted to worship Satan - are not in themselves sin if they are resisted.

 

5. (11) The devil leaves and angels come to Jesus.

 

Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

 

a. Then the devil left Him means that Jesus won. He won because He recognized Satan's mode of attack: lies and deception. Primarily, Satan is a deceiver, and for those who live in light of the cross, deception is his only tool, because demonic powers were disarmed at the cross of their "real" weapons and power (Colossians 2:15). But deception is extremely effective at leading us into sin, and at causing us to live lives of fear and unbelief.

 

i. Jesus showed the only effective counter to deception: God's truth, not man's wisdom. First, we must see temptation for what it is - a lie. Then, we must combat temptation with the Word of God. Then, we must always build ourselves up in the truth, and have it in our heart.

 

ii. Each passage Jesus quoted back to Satan in this section comes from Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Jesus was meditating on those very passages, and He fought Satan with the fresh bread He fed on. We should make sure we always have some fresh bread to answer Satan with.

 

iii. "It is noteworthy that all the passages quoted by our Lord are from the Book of Deuteronomy, which book has been so grievously assailed by the destructive critics. Thus did our Lord put special honor upon that part of the Old Testament which he foresaw would be most attacked. The past few years have proved that the devil does not like Deuteronomy: he would fain avenge himself for the wounds it caused him on this most memorable occasion." (Spurgeon)

 

iv. Jesus thought this was important for us to know; only He could have told the Gospel writers what happened when He was tempted in the Judean wilderness. We need to learn from this; to learn how we can overcome temptation, but even more importantly how Jesus overcame temptation on our behalf and succeeded as the sinless Son of God where Adam and Moses and all others had failed.

 

b. Behold, angels came and ministered to Him: God never forsakes those who endure through temptation. Even as angels came and ministered to Jesus, God will find a way to minister to us and meet our needs as we endure temptation.

 

i. "The angelic help of Psalm 91:11, which Jesus refused to call for illegitimately, is now appropriately given. Ministered implies particularly the provision of food, and again the experience of Elijah seems to be recalled (1 Kings 19:5-8)." (France)

 

ii. "These holy beings might not come upon the scene while the battle was being fought, lest they should seem to divide the honors of the day; but when the duel was ended, they hastened to bring food for the body, and comfort for the mind of the champion King." (Spurgeon)

 

B. The first Galilean ministry of Jesus.

 

1. (12-16) Fulfilling prophecy, Jesus brings light to the region of Galilee.

 

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned."

 

a. When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee: John 3:22 and 4:1-2 indicate that the first ministry Jesus did with His disciples was a baptizing ministry at the Jordan. Sometime after that and after the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus went to Galilee to begin His itinerant ministry in that region.

 

i. John's Gospel (John 1:19-2:12) records an early ministry in Galilee and in Judea before Jesus went to Galilee as mentioned here. This early Judean ministry included the earliest call of the disciples and the wedding at Cana (in Galilee), and the first cleansing of the temple followed by His interview with Nicodemus (in Judea). Then John tells us what happened when Jesus traveled north to Galilee through Samaria, and met a Samaritan woman at a well.

 

ii. It was the imprisonment of John that prompted this. "Galilee was the tetrarchy of Herod, who had imprisoned John. Into that region, our Lord went to continue the ministry of the man thus silenced…Thus it has ever been, and still is. Evil may silence a voice, but it cannot prevent the proclamation of the Word. If John is imprisoned, then Jesus takes up the message." (Morgan)

 

b. He departed to Galilee: The region of Galilee was a fertile, progressive, highly populated region. According to figures from the Jewish historian Josephus, there were some 3 million people populating Galilee, an area smaller than the state of Connecticut.

 

i. In an area of about 60 by 30 miles, Josephus says that there were some 204 villages with none having less than 15,000 people. That gives a population of more than 3 million for the region.

 

ii. Galilee was predominately Gentile in its population, but with a large number of Jewish cities and citizens. Also, Galilee was known as an incredibly fertile region. Many successful farms took advantage of the good soil.

 

c. Leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum: This was because the people rejected Jesus in His own hometown (Luke 4:16-30). It was significant that Jesus made His home in Capernaum and not in Nazareth.

 

i. Matthew may have been particularly interested in Capernaum because it was where he himself lived (Matthew 9:1-9). Peter also had a house in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29 and 2:1).

 

ii. Yet leaving Nazareth, Jesus did not go to live and make His home in Jerusalem or Judea. Going to Jerusalem would seem to be smarter career planning for the Messiah, but Jesus dwelt in Capernaum. "This migration to Capernaum is not formally noted in the other Gospels, but Capernaum appears in all the synoptists as the main centre of Christ's Galilean ministry." (Bruce)

 

iii. "Here he dwelt in a house, either let or lent him; for of his own he had not where to rest his head, Matthew 8:20. Here he paid tribute as an inhabitant; and hither he resorted and retired himself, when he was tired." (Trapp)

 

d. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet: As is his custom, Matthew sees Jesus' ministry in Galilee as a fulfillment of prophecy. Light has come to this region, largely populated by Gentiles, and Isaiah 9:1-2 predicted this of the ministry of the Messiah.

 

i. "In despised Galilee, the place where people live in darkness (i.e., without the religious and cultic advantages of Jerusalem and Judea)…here the light has dawned." (Carson)

 

ii. "Galilee of the Gentiles was now an even more appropriate description than in Isaiah's day, as successive movements of population had given it a predominately Gentile population until a deliberate Judaizing policy was adopted by the Hasmonaean rulers, resulting in a thoroughly mixed population." (France)

 

2. (17) A general description of the message of Jesus.

 

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

 

a. Jesus began to preach: One might say that this was the main occupation of Jesus. He did heal and minister to many miraculously; but on the whole, it seems fair to say that Jesus was a preacher and teacher who healed, more than He was a healer who also preached and taught. This is the priority of Jesus' ministry as stated in Matthew 4:23.

 

i. Preach: "The word in Greek is kerussein, which is the word for a herald's proclamation from a king. Kerux is the Greek word for herald, and the herald was the man who brought a message direct from the king." (Barclay)

 

b. Repent: The gospel Jesus preached began the same place that the gospel John preached began - with a call to repentance (Matthew 3:2). In fact, since Jesus waited until John had been put in prison (Matthew 4:12), He probably saw Himself as picking up where John left off. But Jesus would go further than John ever did, because John announced the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus is the Messiah.

 

c. For the kingdom of heaven is at hand: Some people make elaborate distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. There actually seems to be no difference at all, especially in light of the Jewish custom of often not even naming God directly, but referring to Him by the place where He lives heaven - a custom that Matthew, a Jew writing to Jews, often employs.

 

3. (18-22) Four men are called as disciples.

 

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

 

a. Saw two brothers…casting a net into the sea: This was not the first time Jesus met these men, and other gospels describe previous encounters (John 1:35-42 and Luke 5:3), but this is when Jesus called them to leave their professions and follow Him with a full-time commitment.

 

i. "Its fishing industry was prosperous, and its fishermen not necessarily poor (Zebedee's family employed workers, Mark 1:20)." (France)

 

ii. God usually calls people as they are busy doing something. Jesus called the apostles as they were casting a net into the sea or mending their nets. "They were busy in a lawful occupation when he called them to be ministers: our Lord does not call idlers but fishers." (Spurgeon)

 

·        Saul was looking for his father's donkeys.

·        David was keeping his father's sheep.

·        The shepherds were guarding their flocks.

·        Amos was farming in Tekoa.

·        Matthew was working at the tax collector's table.

·        Moses was tending his father-in-law's flock.

·        Gideon was threshing wheat.

 

b. Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men: In that day, it was customary for a rabbi to have disciples; there was nothing cult-like about Jesus asking these men to be with Him constantly and to learn from Him. In some aspects, Jesus offered them a traditional education at the feet of a rabbi; in other aspects, this was very different from a normal rabbinical education.

 

i. Follow Me "would immediately suggest the disciples of a Rabbi…who literally followed him around to absorb his teaching, though this was by their own choice, not by his summons." (France)

 

ii. "He, however, went further than John, who could only announce and point to another. Jesus immediately followed the announcement with the word spoken to individuals, 'Follow Me,' thus claiming the position of King. (Morgan)

 

c. They immediately left their nets…And immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him: The immediate response of these disciples is a great example to us. Then the first disciples did what all disciples of Jesus should do: they followed Him.

 

i. Following Jesus means leaving some things behind. The Samaritan woman left her pitcher, Matthew left his tax table, and blind Bartimaeus left his cloak to follow Jesus.

 

4. (23-25) A description of Jesus' ministry in Galilee.

 

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him; from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.

 

a. Teaching in their synagogues: The customs of the synagogue in that day gave Jesus many opportunities to teach, because they would often give a visitor - especially a distinguished one - a chance to speak.

 

i. "After the address there came a time for talk, and questions, and discussion. The synagogue was the ideal place in which to get a new teaching across to the people." (Barclay)

 

b. Teaching…preaching the gospel of the kingdom: The difference between teaching and preaching is one of emphasis and manner, not of content.

 

i. "Preaching is the uncompromising proclamation of certainties; teaching is the explanation of the meaning and significance of them." (Barclay)

 

c. All kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease: Jesus' ability to heal those with all different kinds of diseases demonstrates that He has authentic power over the damage done by the fall of man. His authority over demons (and those who were demon-possessed) shows He has authentic power over all creation.

 

i. This is the first mention of the demon-possessed in the New Testament, and the concept is rarely recorded in the Old Testament (Saul was one example, who was troubled by a spirit, as in 1 Samuel 18:10, 19:9). There is obviously much more record of demon possession on the pages of the New Testament than either in the Old Testament or in the contemporary western world. Many suggestions have been offered for this fact.

 

·        Some believe that God gave the devil greater allowance to afflict man in this way, to give greater evidence of Jesus' credentials as Messiah.

·        Some believe that God allowed the devil a greater allowance to afflict man in this way to rebuke the Sadducees, who did not believe in supernatural beings such as angels and demons.

·        Some believe that there was no greater allowance in those days at all, and that there is the same amount of demon possession today, although it is not recognized as such.

·        Some believe that there is simply far less demon possession in cultures that have been under the influence of the gospel for hundreds of years, and far more in pagan and/or animistic cultures.

·        Some believe that Satan himself is not interested in a strategy of widespread demon possession of humans in the contemporary western world, because he finds anonymity and spiritual skepticism more effective tools.

 

d. Great multitudes followed Him: Jesus had a purpose for allowing such dramatic miracles to attract great multitudes. He wanted to teach the multitudes, not simply to impress them with miracles.

 

i. "With every allowance for the exaggeration of a popular account, this speaks to an extraordinary impression." (Bruce)

 

ii. "Christ's fame spread very far doubtless, because of the good he did, and the miracles he wrought…all here again can signify no more than very many that were indisposed and ill affected as to their bodily health." (Clarke)

 

iii. "People from all these areas 'followed' Jesus. Despite contrary arguments 'follow' does not necessarily indicate solid discipleship. It may, as here, refer to those who at some particular time followed Jesus around in his itinerant ministry and thus were loosely considered disciples." (Carson)

 

 

 

©2013 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission