Matthew 4; Luke 4 – 5
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
The temptation of Christ (Matthew 4: 1 – 11; Luke 4: 1 – 13):
All of Satan’s attempts to tempt the Savior had to do with twisting the definition of Christ’s calling and using His power to satisfy Himself rather than the Father’s plan.
We also face “wilderness experiences” here on earth. The Lord is not only testing us, but also bringing us to our most humble point, where we are totally dependent upon God for our every need. You might want to discuss how the wilderness was valuable for the Israelites during the Exodus, and how our own personal “wilderness experiences” can make or break our faith.
And Jesus went about all Galilee (Matthew 4:23):
Capernaum was located on the north side of the Sea of Galilee and was a center for fishing. The “Village of Nahum” (the word Nahum meaning ‘pleasant’) may have had about 1,500 inhabitants, some of them Gentiles and ruling Romans. Jesus spent a lot of time in Capernaum rather than in His hilly home of Nazareth. A possible reason for this was given by Himself when He preached in a synagogue there. The congregation was incensed that He spoke of Himself as the one who fulfilled prophecy and cast Him out. “No prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24). Why is it that the people would not accept the carpenter’s son? This could be a good discussion for your family.
Jesus preached before the congregation in Nazareth (Luke 4: 18 – 24):
Any young man in Judaism can read before the congregation once he reaches bar mitzvah age (12 years old). Note that in Jewish congregations the scriptures are sung, not spoken. Modern congregations normally have a rabbi—a spiritual leader or “temple president” who runs the business end of the synagogue—and a cantor, who sings the scriptures. Go to youtube.com and search for Cantor Azi Schwartz, a cantor in New York City. In this video, Schwartz sings scriptures for the high holy day of Yom Kippur. Cantors aren’t only educated in their faith; they also have beautiful, trained voices.
Jesus insulted the congregation by causing the widow of Sarepta and Naaman to receive miracles even though both were Gentiles, while many Israelites who needed help didn’t receive it. By doing this, He inferred that the Israelites were not worthy of help. For many people in Nazareth, this was the tipping point and the major reason for rejecting Jesus.
The devils knew Jesus (Luke 4:34):
Satan and his followers remember the pre-existence. Our forgetting comes from entering a mortal, infant body. This gives them an advantage because they know our potential, which they will do anything possible to keep us from reaching. The devils in Luke 4 recognized Jesus and knew He was the Christ, but this knowledge couldn’t save them. Why isn’t a knowledge of the Savior enough to guarantee them a place in heaven?
The Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1):
The word, Gennesaret, refers to the Hebrew name for the Sea of Galilee, which is Yam (meaning sea) Kinneret (meaning harp). The name refers to the shape of the inland sea. Its outlet is the Jordan River, which flows south to the Dead Sea (Yam Sof, or “end sea”).
Toiled all the night (Luke 5:5):
Fishing on the Sea of Galilee is done at night, and the popular catch today is called St. Peter’s Fish, which is like tilapia. Winds come up very suddenly on the Sea of Galilee and can be very dangerous.
The man let down through the rooftop (Luke 5: 18 – 26):
There are so many aspects of this story that can be discussed. Of course, the man who was sick had faith to be healed, but we can also learn from his friends and the great effort they showed to get to Jesus, with great reward. Jesus manifested His power and authority to the Pharisees, showing He had the power to both heal infirmities and forgive sins. Everyone was stricken with wonder. Christ’s manifestations of power and authority were completely outside the structure of the Jewish priesthood at the time.
New wine in old bottles (Luke 5: 36 – 39):
This parable is talking about people who are so steeped in their old traditions that they can’t receive new ones without breaking. The cloth image has the same message. Are we unwilling to change ourselves when the Lord teaches us something, or are we open to new ways of growing and becoming better?