What would be a temptation for you after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights? I would be famished! Food would be the first thing on my mind, I feel for sure. But this morning as we looked at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4, I saw it differently.
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he went off my himself. We don’t know if he even told anyone where he was going.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every that comes from the mouth of God.'”Matt 4: 1-4
I can imagine that by now Jesus was what we call “hangry”, right? Why did Jesus go through this? Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus could have turned those stones anything he wanted to fulfill his hunger. So, why did Jesus endure this temptation without giving in to Satan? Because he needed to feel what it was like to be human. This was a period of forced dependence on God. Jesus learned obedience through his suffering and this is what he’s trying to model for us.
The tempter (Satan) came to Jesus when he was in a weakened state. Just like he comes to us when we’re weak. We’ve all been tempted. Satan will come and he will tempt us.
But, here’s what I never got before. Why is bread such a temptation? Because if Jesus turned the stones to bread, he’s putting the bread first and God second. But, Jesus’ need for God was more than his need for bread. I get that now. But the trial isn’t over yet.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: Do not put the Lord our God to the test.'”Matthew 4:5-7
Do you see how Satan twists Scripture to try and talk Jesus into sinning? But what did Jesus answer with? Scripture, right? That’s why it’s so important for us to study our Bible so that we are able to put on the armor of God. This is our protection against the temptations that we face. But if we don’t know what God wants for us, how can we respond in a way that we know is how God wants us to respond?
Satan tries to get Jesus to boost his following quickly without having to wait on God’s timing. He was tempting Jesus to put excitement before God. The temptation is to see God as entertainment. Satan promised to give him everything if Jesus will only bow down to him. Earth is Satan’s playground right now.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you, ” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”Matthew 4:8-10
If in our mind, we think we know what is best and we bypass God, by not seeking his wisdom, it won’t work because we have left God out of the equation. Sometimes doing it God’s way doesn’t make sense and it may seem like a slow moving way to get things done, but God has his reasons for doing things the way he does.
We will all be tempted. We need to remember how Jesus thwarted the temptations that Satan threw at him. He didn’t use some special power, did he? He used God’s Word, Scripture from the Bible that is accessible to us all.
The first temptation is the hardest, but once we give into that temptation, it’s easier the second time, and continues to get easier. Kind of like the Lays potato chip commercial that says, “Bet ya can’t eat just one.” (I know, I’m showing my age there.) But, you know that before you’re done you will have eaten the whole bag!
It all starts so subtly. They are introduced into our lives in ways that don’t seem to be a threat. They don’t seem like temptations at first. They are sensible and seem like basic needs. But at some point we are treating God as entertainment or we’re chasing conspiracies and excitement, forgetting about following Jesus. We become consumed with things that really don’t fit into God’s plan for the world.
Those that follow God’s ways become transformed and they use his love to mend a hurting world.
If Jesus had said yes to any one of these temptation… he wouldn’t be our Savior.
And if we say yes to any one of these temptations… we diminish God in our lives. And diminishing God, we diminish ourselves.
I am thankful for a new perspective on Scripture that I’ve heard many times before. This fresh outlook helps me see Jesus in new light and renews my faith in God. I have fallen short so many times in my life, but he continues to show me grace that I don’t deserve because he first loved me.