Summary: The importance of this narrative to the individual Christian is quite clear. Christ being the example for the church today, we as the body should exemplify similar characteristics. We need to be people of the Spirit, people of the Word and people of the
This is a powerfully written story, where Matthew creates an atmosphere of suspense, irony, artistry, and realism. It is an ideal romantic narrative, which unfolds in the center of a character foil and temptation plot motif as its primary literary construction.
The suspense unfolds when the Devil comes to Jesus, "the Son of God," in the desert and tempts Christ three times to sin (what’s going to happen in the desert). This is also seem at the point of each temptation (what is Christ going to choose). There is also suspense in the reaction of the Devil (how is he going to respond to Christ answers).
There is a dramatic irony that is displayed here in that the readers know that the devil is already defeated because of the resurrection. It’s ironic that Satan would tempt Christ to make the stones into bread because on in Jesus’ ministry He feeds the thousands with seven loafs of bread and five fishes. It is ironic that Satan (the epitome of evil) takes Christ (the epitome of good) to the highest place (archetypally ideal) to tempt Him the second time. It is equally ironic that Satan attempts to uses and twist the Word of God as an authoritative resource. It’s ironic that in Gensis Adam was tepmted in and fell prey to it in paradise and Christ was tempted and had victory the desert and by dying on a filthy cross.
Matthew arranges his material in unity, repetition and with nice mixture of variety. There are three temptations and Christ responds Scripturally to all of them; yet one of the temptations does not include Scripture. The symmetry presents a pattern that underlines each temptation. Satan tempts then Jesus responds. This occurs emphatically three times throughout this discourse. The character foil is clearly seen with Jesus (the epitome of good) and Satan (the epitome of evil) clashes head to head in single combat (spiritually).
It all starts to unfolds when Jesus was lead (Luke used "thrusted") by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. It is interesting to note that the desert was always associated with demonic activity (Is. 13:21; 34:14; Matt. 12:43; Rev. 18:2). The story of the temptations takes place in summer or autumn of A.D. 29 in the wilderness of Judah. Christ was just inaugurated by the Holy Spirit to preach the good news (Carl,Laney J.). Considering that the author, Matthew, who was Jewish is writing to Jews about a Jew (Jesus) it is interesting how he artistically composes this story. It was important to the Jewish audience that Jesus not only fought Satan face to face but also won, because in the Jewish mind set the only one that is able to fight Satan face to face and win was the Messiah. Proving Jesus Messiahship is the reoccurring motif in the book of Matthew. Another important thing to keep in mind is that Jesus was raised a Jew. He, too, memorized the Scriptures along with the rest of society. It is interesting to note that Christ did not begin His ministry until after the Spirit came upon Him. The battle against Satan did not transpire until after the descent of the Spirit. The Bible gives no account of Jesus ever preaching or teaching the Word of God until after the Spirit’s enpowerment/enlightenment.
The Nature of The Battle
It appears that the sole purpose Christ was "lead" in the desert was to ungo the trials and temptation of the devil. It is possible that God was demonstrating the humanity of His Son by leading Him out in to desert to undergo and understand fully what the human experience and realities really are. This paragraph explicitly tells us that Satan tempted Jesus to sin. Jesus was fully man and therefore would also be operating in free will: the freedom to ability to create and originate His own thoughts and action capable of right or wrong decisions. Now logic dictates that this temptation would not have happen if it were not possible for Him to sin.
The First temptation to make bread out of stones was not the "lust of the flesh" as many maintain. For Christ to lust with His eyes would mean that He had a sinful nature (lust) to begin with, and the text does not seem to support such an allegation. The temptation lies in the nature of the devil’s question. Satan said, "If you are the Son of God tell these stones to become bread" Satan was tempting Christ to prove His Kingship with a miracle and in the process fulfill His physical hunger. It is interesting to note that there is a historical parallel with the fasting that Jesus did in the desert and the wandering that Israel had in the desert for forty days (Deu. 8:3). The nature of the temptation was to get Jesus to rely upon Himself rather than on His Father in heaven. It was this same kind of tempation/question that was hurled at Him later when He was on the cross (27:40). As Frank E. Gaebelein puts it, "we must conclude that Satan’s aim was to entice Jesus to use powers rightly His but which He had voluntarily abandoned to carry out the mission of the Father." If Christ would improperly make bread that would have been inconstant with the will of the Father, he would have sinned. Jesus replied, "Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God;" in other words, His food was to do the will of His Father in heaven (Jn.4:34 ). His strength comes from the authority of God’s Word and not the temporary satisfaction of His physical need. The fact that Christ was hungry does demonstrates that Jesus was human and had human desires (although not sinful desires). The phrase "if you are" tell us that Christ was the Son of God as a direct result the conditional "If" the devil affirms the opposite of the nature of the original question. The nature of the question would have been invalid and rejected if Christ was not the Son of God. Therefore, since Christ did not reject the question He Himself also affirms that He was the Son of God by His silence. It appears that the temptation was over the wiliness to depend upon His deistic nature to supply His physical food. It was the idea that Christ can do things His way does not have to submit to the Father has for Him. The devil was trying to tempt Jesus to pleases Himself and operate independently from the Father. Satisfying His earthly need and sacrifice His spiritual mission. In the same way, many maintain that if we are "spiritual enough" that you will have materialistic blessings; or that if we were any kind of good Christian we would not have as many problem as we do in our lives: people or sometimes ourselves expect us to be perfect just because we claim to belong to Him. However the truth is physical prosperity or wholeness and not even our circumstances or problems in our lives does not determine who we are in Christ. And we should not have to be tempted to rely upon our own strength rather than truly relying upon the Father’s strength (Power of the Holy Spirit) who in heaven. It not what we have or don’t have it who we belong too, it not here it’s there. Also many of us have been tempted to do things our way and not God’s way. Be independent and live for ourselves not giving and thought as the ramification of our action. Please ourselves and not God.