The Messiah Came: Matthew 3:1-4:25
The narrative portion begins in Matthew 3:1 and ends in 4:25. Here, Matthew proclaimed that the messianic King had come, and that he had brought the kingdom of heaven to earth.
The first section of the narrative is Matthew 3:1-12, where John the Baptist announced that God’s Messiah would soon come and baptize his faithful people with the Holy Spirit. For 400 years, the Holy Spirit had been relatively inactive in Israel because of God’s judgment against his wayward people. But now, just as Old Testament prophets had predicted, a new day was about to dawn when God’s Spirit would be poured out.
The narrative continues with Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13-17. In this event, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, anointing him for his messianic ministry, and the Father announced from heaven, “This is my Son,” applying to Jesus the royal title from Psalm 2:7.
The divine voice also alluded to the suffering servant of Isaiah 42:1-2 by describing Jesus as the one “whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Jesus was the royal Messiah, but he would be a different kind of King. He would fulfill his calling through suffering.
In the next story in the narrative, found in Matthew 4:1-11, Satan challenged Jesus’ commitment to this role of a royal suffering Messiah. Three times he tempted Jesus to be a Messiah without suffering, essentially saying, “Don’t be hungry like a man. Astonish people into believing without pain. Rule the nations without suffering.” But each time Jesus rejected the easy path that would have denied the character of his suffering messiahship.
Then in Matthew 4:12-17, Jesus began his public messianic mission by preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Consider how Matthew summarized Jesus’ message in Matthew 4:17:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).
According to Matthew, the good news that Jesus preached was that the kingdom of heaven was near — that through his own ministry, Jesus was about to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. And this kingdom was available to all who would repent of their sin and faithfully follow Jesus as king.
In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus called his disciples. The picture is one of the messianic King recruiting the leaders of his kingdom.
Following this, in Matthew 4:23-25, Matthew gave a preview of the next two sections of the gospel. He announced that Jesus traveled throughout Galilee teaching and healing the crowds. Matthew 5–7 illustrate Jesus’ teaching, while chapters 8–9 illustrate his healing.