September 19, 2021 – Matthew 4
Lesson Date: September 19, 2021
Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 4:1-4, 12-13, 16-25
AIM: To lead students to discover activities that marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and to apply the lessons they learn to their own ministry as Christians.
Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 4 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Post the pictures of a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a presidential inauguration parade. The point of the pictures is to show people celebrating the beginning of a new venture. (Another option would be to bring a “Grand Opening” sale flyer to class.) Keep the pictures you posted last week (graduates, a wedding, and a baptism) on display. Write the lesson title, “The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the students that the beginning of a new business or other endeavor is often marked by a celebration. Ask: “Have you ever attended a ribbon cutting or a grand opening?”
Direct the students’ attention to the picture of the ribbon cutting. Tell them that people often celebrate when a new business opens. Point out the fact that the people in the picture appear to be very happy. Show the picture of the presidential inaugural parade. Tell the class that when a new president takes office there is a huge inaugural parade, followed by many balls and parties.
Direct the class’ attention to the pictures from last week’s lesson. Those pictures depict ceremonies that take place at the beginning of a new phase of life. Ask: “Would you agree that we often celebrate the beginning of a new venture or a new phase of our life?” (yes).
Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry. As we study Matthew 4, we will discover what took place when Jesus’ earthly ministry began.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus’ baptism).
- Remind them that Jesus went to John the Baptist to be baptized (in the area around the southern end of the Jordan River; locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of His earthly ministry.
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 3:8).
- Jesus Was Tempted by the Devil.
- Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 4:1-2.
- Ask: “Where did the Holy Spirit of God lead Jesus?” (into the wilderness).
- Tell the class the Judean Wilderness was a rugged, barren, mountainous area near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Ask: “Why did the Holy Spirit of God lead Jesus into this rugged wilderness” (to be tempted by the devil).
- Explain the following:
- Some people mistakenly believe the Spirit of God will never lead us into difficulty, but that is simply not true.
- Jesus needed to face and overcome the devil’s temptation in His flesh before He could begin preaching, teaching, and ministering to others.
- Sometimes the Spirit will lead us into difficulty to better equip us to minister to others.
- Ask: “What did Jesus do in the wilderness?” (fasted for 40 days; He was hungry and physically weakened).
- Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 4:3-4.
- Tell the class the tempter (the devil) challenged Jesus to prove His identity by turning stones into bread. This temptation attacked Jesus’ deity and appealed to His human hunger.
- Ask: “How did Jesus respond to the devil’s temptation?” (He quoted scripture [ 8:3] that exposed the wrong of yielding to such temptation).
- Explain the following:
- The devil tempted Jesus two more times.
- Each time Satan brought temptation, Jesus responded with scripture (Deut. 6:13, 16; 10:20).
- There is a lesson here for us: we don’t have power within ourselves to resist temptation, but God gives us that power through His Word and His Spirit.
- This is one reason Christians should memorize scripture.
- Ask: “Was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry marked by celebrations and fanfare?” (no, it was marked by hardship, deprivation, and temptation).
- Summarize: Immediately after Jesus’ baptism announced the beginning of His ministry, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days.
- Jesus Began His Ministry in Galilee.
- Read Matthew 4:12-13.
- Explain the following:
- King Herod put John the Baptist in prison.
- When Jesus heard about this, He left Judea and went to Galilee (locate both on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Jesus went first to His hometown of Nazareth, but then settled in Capernaum (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Capernaum would serve as the “home base” for Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.
- According to verses 14-15, this fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy recorded in Isaiah 9:1-2.
- Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 4:16-17.
- Ask: “What did Jesus bring to the people of Galilee?” (light to dispel their spiritual darkness).
- Tell the class that verse 17 marks the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry.
- Ask: “What was His message?” (“Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”).
- Tell the students that this is the same message John the Baptist preached (Matt. 3:2).
- Stress the fact that this is the most important message sinful man needs to hear: repent (turn away from your sins), because God is coming in judgment and power.
- Tell the class this kind of preaching will not win popularity contests, but it is what lost people need to hear.
- Summarize: The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was marked by stern preaching of repentance and coming judgment.
- Jesus Called His First Disciples.
- Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 4:18-20.
- Tell the class that Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee (locate on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Explain the following:
- Direct the students’ attention to the front cover of our current Sunday School Member Quarterly.
- Much of Jesus’ ministry was spent walking near the Sea of Galilee.
- As we study Matthew 1 – 14 we will “walk” with Him.
- Jesus saw two fishermen, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the sea.
- Jesus called them to follow Him.
- Ask: “What did Simon Peter and Andrew do when Jesus called them?” (they immediately left their nets and followed Him).
- Read Matthew 4:21-22.
- Tell the students that Jesus then saw two other brothers, James and John, who were in a boat helping their father Zebedee mend their fishing nets. Jesus called them to follow Him.
- Ask: “What did James and John do when Jesus called them?” (they immediately left their father in the boat and followed Jesus).
- Summarize: The beginning of Jesus ministry was marked by calling disciples to follow Him.
- Summary of Jesus’ Early Ministry in Galilee.
- Read Matthew 4:23-25.
- Tell the class that verse 23 names three things Jesus did during His ministry in Galilee.
- Ask: “What were those three things?” They should name the following:
- Teaching in their synagogues.
- Preaching the Gospel.
- Healing sick people).
- Ask: “According to verse 24, what happened as a result of Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and healing ministry?” (His fame spread and people came from many miles away to be healed).
- Tell the students that verse 25 says multitudes of people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and even beyond Jordan followed Jesus (show all these areas on the Map of Judea and Galilee).
- Summarize: Soon after Jesus began His public ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing, His fame spread and multitudes followed Him.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention once again to the pictures of a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a presidential inauguration parade. Tell them that there were no ribbon-cutting ceremonies or extravagant parties to mark the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
Ask: “What kind of activities marked the beginning of His ministry?” They should name the following:
- Jesus began His ministry with hardship, deprivation, and temptation.
- Later, He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy by settling in Capernaum.
- He preached a hard message of repentance.
- He called His first disciples.
- He began His early ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing (ministering to both spiritual and physical needs).
Tell the students that every believer has a ministry. Even though we don’t have titles like “Pastor” or “Reverend,” all Christians are ministers for Jesus Christ.
Ask: “What lessons can we learn from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry?” After some responses, share the following:
- First, we must remember that we will face hardship and temptation if we serve the Lord.
- Second, we can’t face temptation in our own strength: we need God’s Word and God’s power.
- Third, we should serve the Lord like Jesus did. We should teach people God’s Word, preach (announce the truth) about Jesus, and minister to the physical needs of others.
Encourage everyone to accept and apply these truths to their ministries as Christians living and working in a lost world. Lead a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to memorize Matthew 4:4. Tell them they should prepare themselves to face temptation by memorizing God’s Word. A good place to start is with the memory verses listed in the Daily Bible Reading Guide in their Sunday School Member Quarterly. Tell the students to try to teach, preach, and minister to those with whom they interact.
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