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Matthew 2:16-4:11 #eebc2018

We're into Matthew and seeing the tail end of the Christmas story here. The Magi have headed back to their homeland (Persia, but not the point here). Joseph and Mary have fled with Jesus to Egypt.

Herod, living in fear of the "born King of the Jews," uses his authority to call for the death of all the boys in Bethlehem that could possibly be this new king. This is a common theme in ancient history--and it never does work out right. All that happens is the death of innocent people. There's a lesson here: you cannot stomp out the will of God. There is not enough blood to spill, and if you think that more violence will bring you control, you are wrong.

The next step in the narrative is John the Baptist. John preaches in the wilderness, declaring the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. He calls out religious fallacies and political nonsense. He speaks very little of hope and peace and a great deal about judgment. Eventually, this costs him his freedom and then his life. What would we be? Alive or faithful?

Jesus is then baptized, and we see all three persons of the Trinity present: the voice of the Father, the vision of the Spirit as a dove, and the Son is there in the water. Can we fully understand this idea? No, we cannot. But if God had to be limited to our understanding, He'd be a lousy God.

We wrap up with the temptation of Jesus. Satan himself attempts to derail the Messiah by offering Him benefits that are not his to offer. This is what temptation is: an offer to receive something from someone who cannot really give it to you. Satan cannot give you the kingdoms of the world, they aren't his to give! Likewise, happiness is not something that material can give you, happiness cannot be found in sin, because you were made for a relationship with God and those things will not be enough.

We see that Jesus confronts temptation through Scripture. Though He could have said anything He wanted and destroyed the Accuser, Jesus instead gives us an understanding of what can defeat the temptations in our life. As God, He anything He said would be perfect, but we are not God. We, being human, cannot create perfection in our words.

But we can learn from His perfection, and use His words. That is our takeaway here: to know the Word of God well, so that when temptation comes, we can deal with it. Perhaps we can deal with it by reminding ourselves of who God is and what He has commanded. Perhaps we can deal with it by challenging the source of our temptation.

The Word, though, is the key. So know the Word of God.

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