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Having overcome His enemy, Jesus begins His ministry. Satan will be back – Luke ends his account of Jesus’ temptations with these ominous words, ‘When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left until an opportune time‘ (4:12). Satan will try again, but – for now – he has failed to stop Jesus setting out on His ministry, a ministry which brings light into the darkness. The light is shining brightly – ‘the Kingdom of heaven is near’ (17). Jesus’ ministry is viewed as a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (15-16; Isaiah 9:1-2). The prophecy had been given: Death will be overcome, men and women will be delivered from ‘the shadow of death’. Now, in Christ, the prophecy has been fulfilled: by His death, Christ has destroyed ‘him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil’ and He has set ‘free’ those who live in ‘fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Christ’s victory over the world was won for us (1 John 3:8: 5:4-5). Jesus was not a loner. He was a team leader: ‘From victory to victory His army He will lead’ (Church Hymnary, 481). At the very outset of His ministry, He set about putting together His ministry team. Peter, Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples. He called them to follow Him. His call was both gracious and demanding. It is gracious because it is the Saviour who calls us: ‘Follow Me‘. It is demanding because He calls us to follow, to submit to His Lordship: ‘Follow Me’. These men were called to a new kind of ‘fishing’ (19). Jesus’ ministry reached ‘great crowds’ through His ‘teaching …preaching …and healing’ (23-25). This chapter sets the scene for Jesus’ ministry. We see the Word of the Lord triumphant over Satan, fulfilled in Christ, and effective in the lives of the disciples and the crowds.
Scripture speaks of different kinds of ‘wisdom’. In Proverbs, wisdom is closely associated with godliness. In Ecclesiastes, wisdom – viewed as mere human intelligence – is described as ‘meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ (1:12-18). This contrast is continued in the New Testament, where Paul describes Christ as our ‘Wisdom’, contrasting this Wisdom with ‘the wisdom of the world’ (1 Corinthians 1:18-25,30). The purpose of Proverbs is set out in its opening verses. Notice the vital connection between ‘understanding’ and ‘doing’ (2-3). We are to be ‘doers’ as well as ‘hearers’ of God’s Word (James 1:22). We are to ‘keep what is written’ in God’s Word (Revelation 1:3). The great theme of Proverbs is stated in verse 7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge’. Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7: 24-27).