Matthew 3–4: Promises & Light

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 2: Saturday

Matthew 3–4 tells the events of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  As he writes, Matthew continues with his authentication of the identity of Christ.  Chapter 1 began with the genealogy of Christ to prove Jesus was descended from David.  Within chapter 1 and 2 Matthew cites Old Testament prophecies five times as authoritative authentication that Jesus is the Messiah.

In Matthew 3–4, he marks the beginning of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus with quotes from Isaiah.  John is introduced with, “For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying,” and Matthew then quotes Isaiah 40:3, the famous reference to the voice in the wilderness.  As Jesus begins His ministry in Capernaum in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, Matthew writes, “This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet,” and he quotes Isaiah 9:1–2.  Matthew is again citing Old Testament prophecies as authoritative authentication of identity—of John the Baptist and of Jesus.

This use of the Old Testament is a distinctive of Matthew.  R. E. Nixon comments:

“More important, however, are his theological interests.  Perhaps the most striking thing is his interest in the fulfillment of the OT [Old Testament] and his repeated use of ‘formula quotations’ to bring this out (1:22f.; 2:15, 17f., 23; 4:14–16; 8:17; 12:17–21; 13:35; 21:4f; 27:9f.).”1

The Old Testament is cited by Jesus in chapter 4 as authoritative truth throughout the temptations as he repudiates Satan’s words and lies.  When Satan misquotes Scripture to tempt Jesus (have you ever heard the saying that the devil can quote Scripture for his own devices?), Jesus exposes his trickery with His answer from Scripture.

Chapter 4 continues with the arrest of John the Baptist; his ministry to prepare the way for the Lord ends.  The chapter closes with the beginning of the ministry of Jesus as He goes to Capernaum, calls four fishermen to follow Him and gathers large crowds as He teaches and heals.

“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death,
Upon them a light dawned.”
Matthew 4:16

The promised Messiah has come.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1R. E. Nixon, “Matthew,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 814.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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