Matthew Chapter 4

Jesus tempted in the wilderness

1 Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert that he be put to the test by the devil.

2 After spending forty days and nights without food, Jesus was hungry.

3 Then the devil came to him and said, ¡°If you are the Son of God, order these stones to turn into bread.¡±

4 But Jesus answered, ¡°Scrip ture says: one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.¡±

5 Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city, set him on the highest wall of the temple, and said to him,

6 ¡°If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for scripture says, God has given orders to his angels about you. Their hands will hold you up lest you hurt your foot against a stone.¡±

7 Jesus answered, ¡°But scripture also says: You shall not put to the test the Lord your God.¡±

8 Then the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the nations of the world in all their greatness and splendor. And he said,

9 ¡°All this I will give you, if you kneel and worship me.¡±

10 Then Jesus answered, ¡°Be off, Satan! Scripture says: worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.¡±

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came to serve him.

12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

13 He left Nazareth and went to settle down in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee, at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali.

14 In this way the word of the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled:

15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali crossed by the Road of the Sea, and you who live by the Jordan, Galilee, land of pagans, listen:

16 The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shone.

17 From that time on Jesus be gan to proclaim his message, ¡°Change your ways: the kingdom of heaven is near.¡±

18 As Jesus walked by the lake of Ga lilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.

19 He said to them, ¡°Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for people.¡±

20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 He went on from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called them.

22 At once they left the boat and their father and followed him.

23 Jesus went around all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the King dom, and curing all kinds of sickness and disease among the people.

24 The news about him spread through the whole of Syria, and the people brought all their sick to him, and all those who suffered: the possessed, the deranged, the paralyzed, and he healed them all.

25 Large crowds followed him from Galilee and the Ten Cities, from Jerusalem, Judea, and from across the Jordan.


Comments Mathew, Chapter 4

• 4.1 The commentary of this event is partly found in Luke¡¯s Gospel (4:1-13).

Jesus is then Son of God in the sense this word had in his time: he is sent as king, prophet and savior and he knows it. How will he live this and how will God act towards his Son? He will be put to the test in the desert. In reality Jesus would undergo this test throughout his ministry: his opponents would ask for signs and mira cles, and his own disciples would want him to center more on himself. It is this permanent test that is here presented in a figurative way. The Gospel intentionally places this temptation in the desert at the beginning, and affirms that Jesus defeated the evil spirit before he had begun his mission.

After spending forty days and nights without food, Jesus was hungry. This duration of forty days (which symbolically represents the forty weeks a child remains in its mother¡¯s womb in preparation for a new birth) was already present in the life of Moses and Elijah: Ex 24:18; 1 K 19:8. This fast is for Jesus what the command to sacrifice his son had been for Abraham, and for Moses the rebellion of a thirsty people or the incident of the golden calf. In a moment of full lucidity, when Jesus felt physically exhausted and spiritually strengthened by his fast, the devil tried to convince him that it was impossible to carry out his mission with the means God had proposed.

Strange as it is, the Gospel presents this encounter of Jesus with the tempter (devil) as a discussion on biblical texts between masters of the Law. The purpose, no doubt, is to show us that even biblical texts may lead us astray if we are without a spirit of obedience to God. The three temptations recall to mind those of the Hebrews in the desert (Ex 16:2; Ex 17:1; Ex 32). At the waters of Massah they grumbled against God for leading them where the going was difficult; later they put God to the test: ¡°Could not he do something for them?¡± Finally they exchanged God and his Glory for another god of their own making: a golden calf. Jesus replies by quoting three texts from Deu teronomy, a book that speaks at length of the rebellion of the people of God in the desert. The perfect obedience of the Son contrasts with the infidelity of the Father¡¯s chosen people.

Jesus is victor in this trial, but after him the Church will have to confront these same temptations. She could be tempted to satisfy human desires instead of offering true salvation. Jesus teaches us to be strong against the tricks of the devil in using, as he did, the word of God.

The angels came to serve him. After reject ing the temptations, Jesus finds total peace. His purity of heart opens up for him a spiritual world hidden from human eyes, a world as real as the material things and beings surrounding him. In this spiritual world, as Son of God he is king among the spirits who are servants of his Father (see commentary on Dn 12:6).

• 17. Change your ways. The Greek word is often times translated as ¡°convert¡±, or ¡°repent¡±. In 3:11 we put ¡°change of heart¡±, which is the closest to the Greek word. This term can be understood in many ways. In the mouth of John the Baptist, ¡°Be con verted¡± means ¡°turn away from your sins.¡± With Jesus, ¡°conversion¡± means a renewal of life from inside out. The Gospel will tell us that this renewal follows the discovery of God¡¯s mercy and is the work of his Spirit within us (see commentary on Mk 1:14).

The kingdom of heav en is near. The Jews at that time said ¡°kingdom of Heav en¡± instead of ¡°kingdom of God¡± (see commentary on Mt 5:1). Jesus proclaims that God comes to reign among us meaning that we receive definitive salvation.

The Ten Cities (v. 25). This is the territory also called Decapolis, where Jews and non-Jews were mixed. Let us note that Jesus¡¯ ministry begins, not at the heart of Israel, but where is felt the presence of that majority of humankind who have not yet received the word of God.