Lesson 8: Matthew 4

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“Lesson 8: Matthew 4,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 8,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 8

Matthew 4


Following His baptism, Jesus spent 40 days fasting and communing with Heavenly Father in the wilderness. After this experience, the devil tempted Jesus. Using scripture, Jesus resisted each temptation. The Savior went to Galilee, where He called Peter and others to follow Him and went about teaching, preaching, and healing.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 4:1–11

Jesus resists the devil’s temptations

Ask a volunteer to come to the front of the class. Challenge the student to focus on an item in the room for 30 seconds without looking away. Once the student begins, try to distract him or her from looking at the item. For example, you might display brightly colored items, make loud noises, or offer the student food. After 30 seconds, ask the student:

  • How did you do? Why were you able, or unable, to maintain your focus?

  • What did you think about during the 30 seconds?

Ask the class:

  • How is this experience like our efforts to stay focused on obeying Heavenly Father’s commandments? What could the attempts to distract this student represent? (Efforts to tempt us to sin.)

  • Why does Satan tempt us to sin? (See 2 Nephi 2:17–18, 27.)

Ask students to think about the ways Satan tempts them to sin. Invite them as they study Matthew 4 to look for a principle they can apply to help them resist temptation.

Explain that following His baptism, the Savior had an experience that helped prepare Him for His earthly ministry. Invite a student to read Matthew 4:1–2 aloud, using the corrections from the Joseph Smith Translation in the footnotes for both verses. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus experienced in the wilderness. (You may need to explain that in this context, the word commune means to “be with” or to have a close, spiritual interaction.)

  • How would fasting and communing with Heavenly Father have helped Jesus prepare for His earthly ministry?

  • After Jesus had spent this time in fasting and communion with His Father, what did Satan seek to do?

Divide students into pairs. Provide each pair with a copy of the following chart or ask them to copy it in their class notebooks or scripture study journals:

New Testament Teacher Manual

Matthew 4:1–11

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual—Lesson 8

What Satan tempted Jesus to do

How Jesus responded to the temptation

Matthew 4:3–4

Matthew 4:5–7

Matthew 4:8–11

Instruct students to read the designated verses in their pairs and to complete the chart. Before they start this activity, explain that the Joseph Smith Translation corrects the statements in Matthew 4:5, 8 to show that the Spirit, not the devil, took the Savior to the different locations described in these verses (see also Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 4:5 [in Luke 4:5, footnote a]; Luke 4:9 [in Luke 4:9, footnote a]).

After students have completed the chart, invite several pairs to report what they wrote in each box. You might ask the following questions:

  • What desire did Satan try to appeal to when he tempted Jesus, who had been fasting, to turn the stones into bread? (He tried to appeal to the desire to satisfy physical appetite.)

  • What was false about Satan’s offer to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world? (Satan promised rewards that were not his to give and that he could not provide.)

  • What else does this account illustrate about the devil’s strategies to tempt us to sin? (Satan targets our weakest or most vulnerable areas and repeatedly tempts us.)

Point out that Jesus would eventually satisfy His hunger and even turn an earthly substance into food (see John 2:1–11). He would also receive divine confirmation of and assistance with His ministry (see Matthew 17:1–5; Luke 22:41–44), and He will one day rule the world (Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15). However, for Jesus to have obtained these desired ends in the ways Satan tempted Him—instead of waiting for the right time and the right way—would have been a selfish abuse of the Savior’s power. Jesus would establish His divine identity as the Son of God in ways that aligned with Heavenly Father’s will, not with Satan’s bidding. (See Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Inconvenient Messiah,” Ensign, Feb. 1984, 68–73.)

  • What was similar about the Savior’s responses to each temptation? (Jesus responded to each of Satan’s temptations by quoting from the scriptures.)

Invite students to work in their pairs to write a principle we can learn from the Savior’s example of resisting the devil’s temptations. Ask several students to write the principles they identified on the board. As students share the principles they identified, emphasize the following principle: When we recall and apply truths taught in the scriptures, we can resist the devil’s temptations. If this truth isn’t clearly represented among the students’ principles, add it to the statements on the board.

Point out that the Savior not only recalled scriptures that clarified the right course of action for each temptation, but He also applied the truths taught in those scriptures.

  • Considering the principle we identified about the power of recalling and applying truths taught in the scriptures, why is it important to regularly study the scriptures?

Give each pair of students a sheet of paper and ask them to make three columns on it. Instruct them to write in the first column three sins that youth their age might be tempted to commit. Ask them to write in the second column a way Satan tries to entice someone to commit each sin they wrote in column one. Direct students to exchange papers with another pair. Then instruct them to find a specific scripture reference that teaches truths someone could recall and apply when being tempted to commit each sin listed on the paper they received. (You might invite students to refer to scripture mastery passages, such as Genesis 39:9; John 14:15; or Doctrine and Covenants 10:5.) Ask students to write the scripture references in the third column.

After several minutes, invite a student from each pair to report the scripture reference they found for one of the temptations on their paper. Ask them to explain how that scripture could help us when we experience that temptation.

  • When have you been strengthened and able to resist a temptation because you recalled and applied truths taught in the scriptures? (Remind students that they should not share experiences that are too personal or private.)

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a scripture reference that they will recall and apply the next time they are tempted to sin. Encourage them to memorize the scripture they chose.

Matthew 4:12–17

Jesus dwells in Galilee

Summarize Matthew 4:12–15 by explaining that following His experience in the wilderness, the Savior went to Galilee and dwelt in the city of Capernaum. Matthew noted that the Savior’s ministry in Galilee fulfilled a prophecy made by Isaiah (see Isaiah 9:1–2). Invite students to read Matthew 4:16 silently. You may want to suggest that they mark what Isaiah prophesied would happen. Point out that from this prophecy we learn that Jesus Christ brings light into the lives of those who are in darkness. Encourage students to look for how the Savior did this throughout His ministry.

Summarize Matthew 4:17 by explaining that the Savior began to preach repentance in preparation for the kingdom of heaven being established among the people.

Matthew 4:18–22

Jesus calls Peter and others to follow Him

Christ calling Peter and Andrew

Display the picture Calling of the Fishermen (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 37; see also Point out that the two men at the front of the boat are Peter and his brother Andrew.

  • What are they doing with the net?

Explain that while other people likely viewed Peter and Andrew as ordinary fishermen, Jesus Christ saw their great potential and knew what they could become.

  • In what ways are we like Peter and Andrew?

As students continue to study Matthew 4, invite them to look for what we must do to become all that the Lord wants us to become.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Matthew 4:18–22. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the interaction between the Savior and some fishermen.

  • What did the Savior call Peter, Andrew, James, and John to do? What is a “[fisher] of men”? (verse 19).

  • What would these men be sacrificing to follow the Savior and assist in His work? Why might this be difficult for them?

Invite students to ponder how they would have responded if they had been one of these men.

  • What did you notice about the response of these men? What does their immediate response to the Savior’s invitation show about their character?

  • Would these men do more good in their lives as fishermen or as “fishers of men”? Why?

  • As illustrated in this account, what can happen if we immediately respond to the Savior’s invitations to follow Him? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we immediately respond to the Savior’s invitations to follow Him, He can make more out of our lives than we can on our own.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson. Ask the class to listen for how the Lord can make more out of our lives if we follow Him.

Benson, Ezra Taft

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

  • When have you, or someone you know, experienced similar blessings for leaving behind worldly concerns in order to follow the Savior?

  • As you consider the blessings we receive by following the Savior, why do you think it is important to respond immediately to the Savior’s invitations to follow Him?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals a response to the following question:

  • How can you better respond to the Savior’s invitations to follow Him?

Encourage students to apply what they wrote.

Matthew 4:23–25

Jesus goes about Galilee teaching, preaching, and healing

Ask students to read Matthew 4:23–25 silently, looking for the Savior’s actions. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find. Explain that specific instances of the Savior’s teaching, preaching, and healing will be studied throughout the Gospels.

Conclude by testifying of the truths students identified in the lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Matthew 4:2–10. Temptations of the devil

Some people suppose that this occasion in the Judean desert was the one and only time that Satan tempted Jesus and that the Savior emerged victorious. But in Luke 4:13 we learn that following these temptations Satan departed from Jesus only “for a season.” Satan would continue to oppose and tempt the Savior, sometimes using wicked individuals such as those who persecuted Jesus (for example, see Matthew 27:41–43).

Speaking of the temptations the Savior experienced in the wilderness, President David O. McKay said:

“Classify them, and you will find that under one of those three nearly every given temptation that makes you and me spotted … comes to us as (1) a temptation of the appetite; (2) a yielding to the pride and fashion and vanity of those alienated from the things of God; or (3) a gratifying of the passion, or a desire for the riches of the world, or power among men” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1911, 59).

Matthew 4:4, 7, 10. Recall scriptures and apply truths they teach in moments of temptation

Studying the scriptures is essential to being able to recall scriptures in times of temptation. Our study of the scriptures can include efforts to memorize verses or passages. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about how memorized scriptures can help us:

“Great power can come from memorizing scriptures. To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort, and be a source of motivation for needed change” (“The Power of Scripture,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 6).

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided the following counsel pertaining to memorizing scripture passages:

“Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need” (“For Peace at Home,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 30).

Matthew 4:4, 7, 10. Do not entertain temptations

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following about the Savior’s example of resisting temptation:

“By emulating the Master, who endured temptations but ‘gave no heed unto them,’ we, too, can live in a world filled with temptations ‘such as [are] common to man’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Of course Jesus noticed the tremendous temptations that came to Him, but He did not process and reprocess them. Instead, he rejected them promptly. If we entertain temptations, soon they begin entertaining us!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” Ensign, May 1987, 71).