The Temptation of Jesus
Last time I preached from Matthew we looked at Matthew 3:13-17: Jesus’ baptism. We looked at baptism in general as well as Jesus’ baptism. You might remember when I spoke about baptism in general, that I explained why in this church we baptise by immersion, because that is what the word “baptism” means: it means to “immerse” or “wash”. And I also explained why as baptists we only baptise after someone has repented from their sins for themselves and made their own confession of faith, because that’s what they did in the New Testament, and also because baptism in the NT was always the marker of someone choosing to follow Christ, and no-one can chose that for you, however well intended. We all must decide for ourselves, and that’s why in this church we don’t baptise babies or young children, because they are not old enough to make that decision for themselves. And it’s also why we urge those of you who were christened as infants or young children or baptsied anytime before you made your own confession of faith, to be baptised now as a sign of your own, personal, decision to follow Christ. And a couple of people have talked to me about baptism since then, and I would encourage you, if that’s you and you haven’t talked to me or someone else about it, please do so!
And last time we also looked at Jesus baptism in particular. We saw in Mattheew 3:17, that as Jesus came out of the water after His baptism, the Father spoke from Heaven
saying: Matthew 3:17b “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” God the Father made a declaration - a public declaration, that Jesus was His beloved Son. That is – the Son of God. And now we turn to chapter 4 and find that the next event after Jesus’ baptism is his temptation in the wilderness. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness, or the desert. Why? The reason is so that Jesus can be tested, or tempted, by the devil. And we read in verse 2 that Jesus has been in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, and during that time He was fasting - that is, not eating anything. Now if you had been fasting for 40 days and nights, how would you feel at the end of that time? Hungry! And so no wonder it says in verse 2 that after the 40 days and nights that Jesus was hungry! And then after this 40 days, while still in the desert with no food, Jesus is tempted 3 times by satan.
But before we look at those temptations, we ask the question - why was Jesus tempted? Why did the Holy Spirit lead Him there to be tested? Well the Scriptures don’t tell us directly but it is not hard to deduce why. We remember the purpose that Jesus came to earth - why? To die on the cross - on our behalf, as the sinless One. That is, Jesus came to do what we didn’t or couldn’t do. As the sinless One, to bear our sins on the cross.
And Jesus’ test in the desert stands in stark contrast to the tests that people had undertaken in the past and failed. A few months ago we looked at the first test that humankind ever underwent. Remember when we went through Genesis, we looked at Adam and Eve in Genesis 1-3. You might remember that at that time our ancestors Adam and Eve lived in a paradise that God had made for them. It was perfect. No sadness, no discouragement, no fear. No fear of death, because there was no death. And God gave them everything they needed. Plenty to eat, and told them they could eat of anything they liked in the garden, with one exception.