Jesus' Temptation and Beginning of Ministry
After Jesus' baptism, He was led by the Spirit (Luke said “full of the Spirit”; Mark said “driven by the Spirit”), meaning Jesus was under the direction of His Father to spend time in the wilderness around Jericho to be tempted by the devil. God does not ever tempt anyone (James 1:13), but He does use temptations for His purposes, specifically to intentionally enable those who face them to deflect them and not allow any temptation to detour God's purposes.
Temptation of Jesus (1-11)
Yahweh does not tempt, but He does direct and guide every person to encounters temptations in His timing and under His authority so those who face temptations will be successful to completely resist (1).
Matthew then begins to describe the conditions of the testing; it happened after forty days of fasting and at a moment when Jesus was hungry and vulnerable (2).
The tempter came to Jesus with three temptations; however, each temptation was seeking to accomplish the same goal. In verses three and six, the devil told Jesus that "if He is the Son of God" then He should act in one of three ways. In essence, the devil was tempting Jesus that since He was the Son of God, He should consider being a wrong kind of Son:
1. The kind of Son who gratified His own needs outside His Father's will (3).
2. The kind of Son who gratified His lust for celebrity outside of His Father's will (5-6).
3. The kind of Son who gratified His ambition for power outside of His Father's will (8-9).
In the first temptation, Jesus was tempted to use His Son of God powers to make bread out of stones. Jesus fought off this temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, reminding the devil that He did not gain His vitality through being filled from the outside but by being filled with God's voice from the inside (4).
In the second temptation, Jesus was tempted to go to the pinnacle of the temple and fulfill Malachi 3:1 which proclaimed Messiah would suddenly appear in the sky. The devil went on to remind Jesus that the angels would need to fulfill His Father's promise recorded in Psalm 91:11-12 to support His claim and to set Him up as a celebrity Messiah. In essence, the devil was tempting Jesus to make Himself known in some extraordinary way, to make Himself famous (5-6). Jesus fought off the temptation again quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16, claiming He would not put the Lord to a foolish test, trying to force Him to keep His word while He (Jesus) sought to become Messiah by human and extraordinary means (7).
In the third temptation, the devil showed Jesus the kingdoms of the world, along with their power and riches and told Jesus he would yield them up without a fight to Him if Jesus would merely make Satan the ultimate object of His worship (8-9).
It’s important to note here that Jesus likely was not taken to literally the pinnacle of the temple or a high mountain physically but in heart and mind through the devil’s description.
Jesus once again quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 and declared the center focus of His heart—only Yahweh is to be worshiped and served as God.
Jesus then ordered Satan to be gone, and the devil left. Oddly, after He had fasted and overcome the devil’s temptations, the angels did come and bear Him up (11).
Regarding the kingdoms the devil offered Jesus, there is no doubt the devil is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), the ruler of this world (John 12:31), and the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), meaning at some level he did have something to offer Jesus.
Jesus Begins Ministry (12-16)
Jesus’ ministry did not begin after His baptism, nor after His fasting and triumph in temptation. Jesus’ ministry began when he heard John the Baptist had been arrested. Once Jesus had heard of John's arrest, He left His home in Nazareth and moved to Capernaum (12-13). Matthew picks up on the fact that the move enabled Jesus to fulfill another prophesy found in Isaiah 9:1-2. Isaiah declared that in the very region where the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali settled in the days of Joshua and then subsequently lost to the Gentiles, a great (unusual) light would appear and dawn on both the Gentiles and the Jews who were living under the shadow of death. This is how the aristocrats and those in Jerusalem and other urban centers considered those who lived in the area, those who were sitting (continuing) under the shadow (potential) of death (14-16).
Jesus Calls His First Disciples (17-22)
Jesus began calling followers with the same message as John the Baptist—it was both distinct and shocking: "repent." Jesus was calling those who would follow Him to change the way they were thinking and put Yahweh at the very center of all their thoughts; there would be no other way for anyone to experience the Kingdom of God which had invaded time and space and was available for the touch in those who would remove themselves and their wants from the center of their thinking.
Soon after He began to preach His message of repentance, He started collecting His close and immediate disciples. While Jesus had already met some of these disciples before His own preaching ministry commenced and had even spent some time with them (John 1), He had not yet called them to leave everything and follow Him. Matthew records the moment Jesus called those fishermen to leave their nets. As they were casting their nets into the sea, He called out to them one day to leave their nets in the water for others to attend to and to come and follow Him. Simon and Andrew immediately did so (18-20). Further down the shoreline, Jesus found two others, James and John (who were likely sons of the sister of Mary whose name was Salome, making James and John cousins). Jesus’ two cousins not only left their jobs but their father (21-22). James, by the way, was the first martyr of the church (Acts 12:2).
Jesus Intensifies His Teaching Ministry (23-25)
Jesus started touring the cities of Galilee centering His attention on proclaiming the gospel in synagogues. Jesus’ opening Good News was that the Kingdom was now touchable, to be experienced, encountered, and observed by those who would begin to change the way they believed in Christ.
Not only did Jesus proclaim the Gospel, but He also allowed those of Galilee to see and experience the Gospel by healing diseases and relieving those oppressed by demons, curing those afflicted with seizures and restoring paralytics to full strength and usage of limbs. Great crowds began to follow Jesus from Galilee, the Ten City area, from the south in Jerusalem and Judea, and even from the east side of the Jordan River.