Jesus Christ’s one true desire is for all humanity is to Repent, it’s the heart of the Gospel. Repentance, turning from a life of selfishness and sin to a life devoted to God. Jesus’ message is still the same today. Our Lord calls to us just as he did Simon and Andrew in Matthew 4:19~And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (ESV) Are not you glad our Lord knows how to speak our language? He will walk a little further and call another set of brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. The call of Jesus Christ is an invitation to follow, and change our lives forever. If we desire to be a spiritual success, one of the most important terms to we must understand is follow. In Jesus’ day, disciples would literally and physically follow their teachers, to learn from them and imitate them. 

Today, we follow Jesus through Discipleship: Bible study, small groups, and community worship. The word discipleship can be summed up in one word: follow. As Jesus walks along the shore He calls to Simon and Andrew who leave their nets and follow Him. Up the shoreline of life Jesus calls to James and John who immediately follow Jesus leaving the boat and their father behind (4:21-22). Has Jesus called you? I bet He has, Jesus calls each disciple to help Him in proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom, and they must follow. To prove He is the Messiah, He heals people w/all kinds of disease and sickness, and news about Him spreads throughout the land. 

Most are not following Jesus for the words of life He shares or the relationship He offers, rather, like many today, they’re coming to receive a miracle He is performing in their lives. They trust Him to heal but are not ready to follow Him for life. The most important word in the Christian vocabulary is follow. Hebrews 11:4 says Able follows for a better sacrifice. Noah faithfully follows God’s instructions and receives life in the time of the flood. Elijah, a widow and her son follow God and live during a famine. Jesus chose 12 to follow Him, 11 give their lives for the cause of Christ. 

What I want for us to takeaway from our study of Matthew 4 is: Whose footsteps are you following? Our spiritual success isn’t determined by the number of: converts, miracles, dollars, or what we are even able to build. No, spiritual success is determined by our ability to follow God. Jesus did a lot of quoting today from Deuteronomy and so I found it only fitting to encourage you from Deuteronomy 5:33~Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (NIV) Where is the Lord asking you to follow? Is there a land He’s given you to possess? Why not become the Spiritual Success God has purposed you to be by fighting for and following the Lord Jesus? 

Call to Repentance

Today, let’s consider what it means to follow Jesus Wholeheartedly (Matthew 4:12-25). Christ Jesus hears John the Baptist has been arrested (4:12) by Herod Antipas, who arrested John for preaching that it is immoral for Herod to take his brother’s wife. Mark 6:17~ For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. (NIV) Jesus fearlessly returns to Galilee, the heart of Herod’s territory. He goes to Nazareth and then moves to Capernaum, the largest fishing town on the Sea of Galilee, which becomes His headquarters during His earthly ministry. This is a region of land given to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Some may wonder why Jesus’ ministry is not centered in Jerusalem. It is because Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be a great light. 

Isaiah 9:1-2~“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.” (ESV) (Matthew 4:12-15). 

Here in the middle of Matthew 4, we see a determined shift in the life and ministry of Jesus. Arriving at Matthew 4:17~From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (ESV) From that time, this is the first time we see this in the New Testament and in Matthew. It denotes the shirt forward by Jesus in ministry. We will witness this two more times in Matthew 16:21 and Matthew 26:16. The first shift is for Jesus to begin preaching. His message: repent the Kingdom of heaven is near. 

In Matthew 16:21~From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (NKJ) The message Christ Jesus shares is the power of the Gospel, for He must die for our sins and be raised to raise us to new life. The third and final time we see this take place is found in Matthew 26:16~So from that time he sought an opportunity to betray Him. (NKJ) Jesus waits as we all do for the door of ministry to open when it does He enters through the process and then begins to preach. When the time comes near for the purpose of His being here, he shares diligently how God’s plan will unfold. Then He places Himself in the hands of man, to fulfill the process of His life.

Jesus understood what His purpose was and lived fully surrendered to God’s will and plan. That is a bit harder for us, because we do not always understand the purpose God has for our lives. Someday we are building an ark, other days we are sharing the Gospel. The thread that runs through these days is salvation. How God has purposed good things for us to do ahead of time (Ephesians 2:10). Why not take time to do the good thing God has placed before us and we will feel His embrace, assurance, and joy. May the joy of the Lord be yours today. 

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus was tempted as we all are in every way. He went 40 days without food and then faced the three areas of temptation common to al humanity. The temptations of lust, pride and today, greed. As, the devil takes Christ Jesus to the peak to challenge Him. Matthew 4:8-9~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.” (ESV) In other words, Satan said, If you want to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords God’s way, you’ll have to die on the cross. But, I can give everything to you right now, and you won’t have to suffer; I can give you a shortcut with no suffering. 

Satan still offers us shortcuts to the things of the world, if we will just do things his way. Our Lord tells Satan, Get out of here and then quotes Deuteronomy 6:13~Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. (NIV) Listen to Jesus’ response Matthew 4:10~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. (ESV)

This temptation of greed really boils down to only two choices: doing things God’s way of doing things Satan’s way. We decide whom we will worship and serve by the choices we make each day. Jesus reminds us of this in His sermon on the mount. Matthew 6:24~You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both. (MSG) After being unsuccessful in tempting Christ Jesus in every possible area, the devil leaves Him, and angels come to minister to Jesus (4:11). As believers and faith practitioners, we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize. Hebrews 4:15~For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. (NIV) 

This is something that affects all of us in life. We are tempted to step in front of Jesus and do things our own way. Before Jesus was taken to be tried and crucified Peter steps in. Matthew 26:50-51~Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. (NIV) Then Jesus educates us in Matthew 26:52-54~Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be…(NIV).

As Christians, we often get into serious trouble when we try to solve our problems in our own way or in our own time. The results are overwhelming personal debt, infidelity, dishonesty, etc. Being like Jesus Christ requires obeying the command of Psalm 27:14~Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (NIV) That’s probably one of the hardest things for us to do, to wait for the Lord and to take heart while doing the waiting. 

But, when we understand that the root of all of our temptations in this life, come to us from lust, pride and greed. The only way we can fight temptation successfully is with the Word of God. So, what is your reading plan of attack? How are you learning the Word of God, hiding it in your heart, committing it to memory? To be a Spiritual Success, we must learn to word to fight temptation biblically. Join the read 2019 daily reading, it will show up in your inbox each day. There are numerous apps that can help, or buy a one year bible that will help you. It only takes 4 chapters a day to read through the Bible in a year.