Summary: Matthew 4 shows how Jesus faced temptation, called disciples and entered his ministry. This lesson focuses on the meaning of Jesus’ temptation for us.
In Matthew 4 we see that Jesus is the master, the mentor, and the minister sent from God.
Right after Jesus was baptized he was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. This is a disturbing turn of events for anyone who thinks that becoming a Christian, being baptized into Christ, will make life easy and take away all our problems. Just look at Jesus, our example! Jesus is the Master, the only begotten Son of God, yet he walked from the waters of baptism where God said, “You are my beloved Son!” into the wilderness of temptation where the Devil tried to get Jesus to prove it.
Think of it, Matthew 3 concludes with the Father’s voice from heaven affirming that Jesus is His beloved Son, in whom God the Father is well pleased. Yet immediately after that, the next verse in fact, Jesus is lead into temptation. The Devil will over and over say, “If you are God’s Son… use your powers to prove it.” But Jesus would only demonstrate the power of God at God’s command, not even at his own will, and certainly not at the whims of Satan. John records Jesus’ spelling this out for the Pharisees: John 5: 19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, (DID YOU GET THAT? NOTHING… HOW MUCH IS NOTHING??? HE CONTINUES…) unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. And again in verse 30 " Of Myself I can do nothing. Jesus was just like his Father! Satan’s temptation is to do something for himself as the Son of God. Jesus, if you are the Son of God, you deserve better!
What about you and me?
When we are baptized into Christ and put on Christ, we are also sealed in the Holy Spirit as sons and daughters of God. We begin our new life in Jesus Christ, born of water and the Spirit, washed clean from sin by the blood of Christ, having been made a new creature in Jesus Christ, with our names written in the book of life, God adds us to the church and our sights are set on eternal life in glory with Jesus Christ. But then what happens?
It seems a bit sad that the first steps we take as a Christian right out of the baptistery are often marked with troubles and temptations. Why? Peter calls these trials the testing or proving of our faith, 1 Pet. 1:7. (So how are we doing?) Jesus tells us, “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” Rev. 2:10. In Acts 14:22 Paul visited the new churches as he was returning home from this missionary journey and he gave them these words: “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” John 16:33. The place of peace for us is not in this world but in Jesus Christ himself. The place of life and joy for us is not in this world and following the desires of the flesh, but in pleasing the Father and following the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
Writing to the Romans 8:17-18 Paul told them, “If we are children of God then we are heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.”
It’s a clear trade off. God gave us his Son Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for us to pay for our sins. We come to Jesus and give up our sins and deny our selves and walk in the will of Jesus Christ our Lord even when it hurts, even when we are tempted and tried. Why? Because that is the path to glory. The way of the cross leads home.
Peter agrees and writes: 1 Peter 5: 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.