Our Lord opens His diary to inform us in Matthew 4:1-11 of being tempted by Satan. We have this passage because He wanted us to have it.
“Then (vs. 1).” When? Apparently right after the baptism of chapter 3. One translation of Mark 1:12 says Jesus was “driven by the Spirit into the wilderness.” This was no chance occurrence – it was arranged by the Spirit of God.
Heaven had spoken at our Lord’s baptism; now Hell would cross examine. The father had voiced His total approval . . . then Satan came. It was time to legitimitize the King; show He was worthy of being followed.
When trials come, do not automatically assume it is because of sin. Immediately thinking, “What have I done to deserve this?” may not be the right response.
Identity is not a gemme, not an automatic, not something so obvious it would never be challenged. Satan starts on our Lord by hitting His identity: “IF you are . . . .” Christians need to cling to their connection – their identity – in Christ. Very valuable. Twice the acidic one seeks to undermine the Lord’s identity (vs. 3 & 6). We can expect the same.
Satan knew Jesus was God; Jesus knew that Satan knew He was (and is) God, but that is where the toxic one started.
Was our Lord tempted throughout the 40 days? Verse 2 reads as though He was not hungry until after the 40 days, which is not logical. Likely the three recorded temptations were a summary and the most difficult of many different temptations.
Tested on a scale of 1-100, we can be sure Satan hit Jesus Christ with his most attractive appeals. Whereas we would fail at the 30 mark, or the 75 mark, Jesus did not, so the pressure was ratcheted up to the full 100.
Titanic battles raged (and continue to rage) in the spiritual realm (Revelation 12:7; Daniel 10:13; Zechariah 3:1-5). And that conflict spills over to the earth.
The Personal Needs Test. I imagine Satan arguing, “Are you really God’s Son? Was God really pleased with You at Your baptism? God is not taking very good care of You – look, You are hungry.” Dear Christian going through something that seems contradictory to God’s love – realize that Satan will work against you with something reasonable. Like, “If God is so pleased with you, why are you hungry? God has failed you. God has not delivered for you.” We may wonder, “If I am pleasing to God, why are the guys at work always making fun of me? Why did this injustice happen to me?”
Jesus wrestled Satan with one arm tied behind His back. That is, He limited Himself to meet the evil one the same way His followers would have to – with Scripture. We battle by being dependent on God, humbled by the intensity of the fray, and needing strength from the Almighty.
The toxic one is going to rag on you pretty hard: “You? A Christian? Impossible! Look how sinful you are! God does not love you! Don’t you realize God is punishing you – look at how difficult your life is and how you are being spanked! Get a clue buddy!”
The devil was saying in effect to Jesus, “If You are who You say You are, Jesus, surely You can do something simple like turning stones into bread. Certainly You can take care of Yourself, because God is not taking care of you. Prove who You claim to be.”
Jesus Christ met this temptation with Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man does not live by bread alone.” “Alone” acknowledges our need for physical food. Jesus was saying, “It is possible to have lots of food, yet be spiritually hungry.
Our Lord was saying, “Satan, you are operating on a false assumption. You are assuming bread is most important. It is not. You are assuming bread alone will sustain you. It won’t.” Friend, you were created for God, and no One else will satisfy you. Jesus was proving who He was by putting forth something other than the Get Agenda.
While God does keep us alive mostly by bread, we are poor if we are “bread only” people. To be:
- Dishonest in business is to stand in the “bread only” line.
- Untruthful is to stand in the “bread only” line
- Lazy is to stand in the “bread only” line
- Independent of God is to stand in the “bread only” line
Oh to be nourished daily by what God has said. It is true that many days I read the Bible and I do not feel that I have stuck my finger in a spiritual electrical outlet, but it is also true that over the months and years, as I continue to read the Book, there is an accumulated sense of being loved, guided, directed and helped by It.
We are involved in this titanic struggle every day, even though we engage in it in a non-spectacular way. Ease of movement from the supernatural realm to an earthly environment is not open to us now, but once believers get promoted, we will have a working knowledge of both realities.
The temptations were real and enticing; attractive and appealing. But Jesus Christ had not wavered, taken the bait, or caved. Not sinned. All that Satan offered Him would eventually come to Him, but He had to learn obedience through what He suffered (just like we do; Hebrews 5:8). He had to take the tough route, not the easy way. He had to die to Himself to model to us how God runs His world. And how to live in victory.