Summary: Life is filled with trials and temptations. Sometimes we fail. Jesus was also faced with great tests, but he succeeded. Let’s learn how Jesus battled temptations and won. Let’s look at the testing of Christ in Matthew 4:1-11.

Life is filled with trials and temptations. Sometimes we fail. Jesus was also faced with great tests, but he succeeded. Let’s learn how Jesus battled temptations and won. Let’s look at the testing of Christ in Matthew 4:1-11.

Led by the Spirit

Matthew 4:1-2 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Jesus was tried. Did he love God[1] with all his heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5)? Jesus’ responses[2] come from the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). The Greek word for tempted also means tested. Jesus was being tested after a preparatory time of fasting. Would he pass?

[1] Brown, Fitzmyer & Murphy. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Prentice Hall. 1990. 638.

[2] R. T. France. The New International Commentary of the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans. 2007. 124-136.

The First Test: Physical Food

Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

The tempter tries to incite Jesus to do his bidding. He should not need to lack food. His appetite is tested. Would he use his heavenly powers to satisfy the lusts of the flesh? Would he pass the test? Do we follow the tempter’s untrustworthy words or God the Father’s?

The First Response: Spiritual Food

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

This quote from Deuteronomy 8:3 tells us God fed ancient Israel so they would learn to be fed by Him and not their own efforts. Jesus had the power to make bread from stones, but waited for His Father’s timing to be revealed, rather than follow the devil’s timing.

The Second Test: Foolish Risks

Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “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.’”

Would Jesus be tempted by the pride of life and take a foolish leap from a Temple wing perhaps 50 meters above ground? How often do we take foolish chances without praying to do God’s will? How often do we confuse a foolish jump with a Spirit-led leap of faith?

The Second Response: Don’t Tempt God

Matthew 4:7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Jesus wasn’t fooled by someone twisting Scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 where Moses and Aaron had taken glory to themselves for a miracle, instead of giving God the glory (Numbers 20:7-12). Jesus only wants to bring glory to the Father. Do we trust God or our presumptuous self-will?

The Last Test: Worship Evil

In Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

This is not as subtle as the others. Would Jesus be tempted by worldly power? Satan rules this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:11-12; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9-17). How many people have received great power from the devil?

Who does God allow to rule today’s world? Satan is the ruler (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), god of this world/age (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, evil spirits (Ephesians 6:11-12).

The world is under the sway of evil (1 John 5:19). The devil deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9-17). Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). We are rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into God’s eternal kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

The Last Response: Worship Only God

Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Notice that Jesus substitutes the word fear from Deuteronomy with the word worship. The “fear of God” means “worship.” Jesus also calls Satan by name, the adversary. In passionately telling the devil to get behind him, Jesus reveals his total aversion to gaining worldly power through compromise with any evil.

The Alleged Discrepancy

Matthew records the events in a different order than Luke. Is this a biblical contradiction? History is often written climactically or topically rather than chronologically. Matthew seems to have written chronologically by using the word “then,” whereas Luke seems to be thematic judging by his use of the word “and.”

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