Theme: The Nature of Christ’s Kingdom
During this week leading up to Easter Sunday, we look at the story of Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem and learn about the nature of his kingdom as seen in his own suffering and death for sinners.
Scripture: Matthew 21:4-5
There is also a third reason. He came to show the nature of His kingdom. That’s why He came in the way He did. I think here of the great contrast between what Jesus actually did and what at an earlier point in Matthew’s gospel the devil suggested He do. In the temptation of our Lord recorded in Matthew 4, the devil came to Him in the wilderness and suggested that the way He was going about things was inappropriate for one who wanted to be the king of the Jewish nation and of the world besides. He said, in effect, “You’re hungry, here are these stones. You need to get into the miracle business and begin to do spectacular things by changing these stones into bread.”
That was a temptation, as Jesus pointed out, to live by miracles rather than by obedience to the Word of God. As Jesus responded. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” But at the same time, it was also a great temptation to launch the nature of his ministry along those miraculous lines, because that would quickly draw quite a crowd. We know that this reaction from the people came later because Matthew tells us that on two separate occasions, when He fed the multitudes with only a small amount of food, the immediate reaction was the attempt to make Him king so that he would liberate the nation. The Lord always turned His back on that because although He cared about people, and showed that by His work of healing, He knew that His kingdom was not a kingdom of simply meeting physical needs. Rather, through them Jesus was showing the people the deeper, spiritual needs that they had, which only Jesus could meet. He never wanted that to be forgotten.
The second thing the devil did was to take him up into the temple and tell Him to throw Himself down because God has promised in the Psalms to take care of Him. Doing something that spectacular would cause people to follow Him. Our Lord rejected that as well. He knew it was putting God to the test but He also knew that that was not to be the nature of His ministry.
We had plenty of that kind of political activity today. The devil would make a great campaign manager in the 20th century. He would know how to arrange what we call a media event. Something spectacular is done and the press is there to record it, and then it gets on the six o’clock news at night and attracts a great deal of attention. But Jesus didn’t do that. He knew that His kingdom had to come by a transformation of the human heart.
What other reason is given to explain why Jesus comes as he does?
In Matthew 4, what does Jesus’ temptation by Satan reveal about the true nature of Jesus’ kingdom, as opposed to what others might have thought or wanted?
Application: In what ways might churches be engaging in ministry using elements that are meant to grab people’s attention, rather than focusing on the characteristics of Jesus’ kingdom that we see in Matthew?