We are looking at Matthew 4:1-11 which informs us of Satan’s effort to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark 1:13 tells us that wild animals were present, likely adding to the danger and tension of the situation.
In part 1, we considered The Personal Needs Test. The toxic one tempted Jesus Christ to meet a legitimate need in a non-legitimate way . . . to use His power to (1) prove who He was / is, and to (2) respond to the implied accusation that He could not be who He claimed since God was not taking good care of Him (He was hungry).
The Presumption Test: We imagine Satan saying, “All right – so you trust God to nourish You His way. Okay. Let’s see just how much You really trust God. Let’s see You prove You trust Him.
The Lord Jesus had responded with Scripture to the Personal Needs Test by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. But Satan is also adept at quoting Scripture, so he quoted Psalm 91:12. “Let’s see you claim that verse Jesus.”
Somehow the vile one was able to take Jesus to the top of the temple. He invited Jesus to jump, then expected God would have angels parachute Him safely to the temple court yard below. What a great start to His public ministry! Malachi 3:1 said the Messiah would “suddenly come to His temple,” so why not do just that?
Satan hissed, “If you won’t prove who You are, then let God prove who You are.” Jump off the pinnacle and float down. Everyone will see you and you will have made a dramatic start to your ministry and have a ready-made audience.
The response of the Lord Jesus Christ was that people should not put God in a box. People should not commit God to do something in such a way that He will lose status, standing or respect if He does not do what people committed Him to do. People can “put the Lord your God to the test” by declaring God is going to do a certain thing. Speaking loudly or writing much about something one is sure God is going to do (like predicting the date of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ) – that’s “putting God to the test.” That’s being presumptuous.
Sometimes very innocently, we can find ourselves needing guidance and saying something like, “Lord, my boss is demanding a decision from me by next Tuesday. May I hear from You please?” That’s legitimate. But telling God, “You must do such-and-such by Saturday, or I quit” is not legitimate. Faith is accepting something difficult without giving God a deadline to remove it. Giving the Almighty deadlines is not something created beings should do. Again, that’s presumptuous.
People can also foolishly venture out into something dangerous and speak about how God will certainly rescue them – that can also be testing God in an inappropriate way.
The Patience Test: Somehow the evil one had the capacity to show the Lord Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). Imagine the wealth of Alexander the Great, Rome, Constantinople, Europe, Britain, China and America all being displayed to you. Staggering! Wealth so vast and opulent as to overwhelm.
All of this the toxic one offered to Jesus Christ, and the text does not dispute his ability to deliver. All the kingdoms of the world of all time! By simply worshiping Satan briefly it would all belong to Jesus Christ.
The essence of this temptation was for Jesus to get all the kingdoms of the world now. Indeed, He will get all the kingdoms of the world (Psalm 2:8; Revelation 5). But the issue is when.
He could have them at the time of Matthew 4. In effect, the devil was saying, “You do not need to go to the cross – I can arrange for you to by-pass that awful experience.”
We very much like to get what we want immediately. Microwaves offer hot food now. Cell phones offer instant communication now. The whole American credit card industry is designed to take advantage of people wanting something now, even if they may not have the money to pay for it. We do not want to wait for anything. All people have the same sense of immediacy; our Lord Jesus also felt the weight of waiting.
A handyman advertised, “I can do anything your husband can do and I can do it now.”
The God-Man, Jesus Christ, answered with Deuteronomy 6:13. Friend meet temptation with the words of the Holy One. I have experienced that singing Just As I Am has a powerful effect on me when I am tempted.
To summarize: (1) we are tempted to distrust God’s care (vs. 3 & 4). (2) we are tempted to put pressure on God; give God a deadline (vs. 5 & 6) And (3) we are tempted to be impatient, even though we know we will eventually receive what we want (8-10).