Summary: Jesus’ victory over temptation is our victory. A closer look at the beginning of Jesus’ victories on our behalf.
Matthew 4:1-11: VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION
Have you ever tried to do something yourself, but in the end, it didn’t work out well? You should have depended on someone else do it. Maybe that has happened to you with a home improvement project – you did some painting yourself, or some plumbing yourself, you finished up, and now, there are some things wrong with what you did. “Good enough,” you might say. But someone else with higher standards probably wouldn’t like it. But you did it yourself. You didn’t want to depend on someone else.
Isn’t that how it is with life? When you look back on your life, you might say to yourself, “Good enough!” But there are some flaws there, aren’t there. You can look back on some different moments you’ve had in your life and see the mistakes you’ve made, the temptations you’ve fallen into. “Good enough,” you might say. But someone else with higher standards probably would say, “No, your life has not been good enough.” And we know who that someone else is, don’t we. That someone else is God. At the end of our lives, we stand before him, and he is the one that judges you. How good of a job have you done with your life? God has some pretty high standards as he determines how well you’ve done. Do you know what his standard is? It’s perfection. “Have you kept my commandments perfectly? Have you resisted temptation perfectly?” “Good enough” just doesn’t cut it. This isn’t some home improvement project. This is your eternal soul we’re talking about. And when you think about God’s high standard of perfection, you realize that if you try to come before him, depending on yourself, then you’re in trouble.
That’s why Jesus Christ came. Most of the time, we think of Jesus as our substitute in his death. He died on the cross for us. And that’s true. But we often forget that Jesus also came as our substitute in his life. Since you and I can’t please God with perfect lives, Jesus came to do that in our place. Instead of you, depending on yourself to please God with your perfect life, you can trust in Jesus, who came and pleased God perfectly for you. Jesus is your Savior, not just by dying on the cross for your sins, but also by living a perfect life in your place, and giving you the credit.
And that’s especially true when it comes to temptation. Have you ever fallen into a temptation? Today, let’s look at how Jesus, our substitute, did what you and I could never do – he perfectly resisted temptation and defeated the Devil, and he did that, for you. This is a big moment in the life of Jesus – it’s the beginning of his victories over Satan, eventually culminating in his victory at the cross and the empty tomb.
Right after his baptism, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. The time had come for Jesus to start doing battle with Satan. God the Father put him into this situation, and notice what kind of situation this was: “After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.” Jesus was weak and in pain and not feeling well at all after not eating for almost a month and a half. Can you imagine how weak Jesus must have felt? But he was trusting his Heavenly Father. Fasting is what God the Father wanted him to do, and when this time of fasting is over, God the Father will let Jesus know. Jesus was trusting that this is how it would work out.
That’s when Satan shows up with temptation #1: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” In other words, Jesus, you don’t need to put up with this hunger. You are the Son of God, aren’t you? You don’t need to trust that your Heavenly Father will take care of you. He hasn’t let you eat for a month and half, for goodness sake! And you are the Son of God? It doesn’t make sense! Do your own thing, Jesus. You have special powers. Use them! Eat! It’s silly for you to be starving like this!
This was a very real temptation for Jesus to deal with, to doubt his Heavenly Father’s word. And isn’t this how Satan tempts us today? Maybe God has led you into a difficult situation. And the Devil says to you, you don’t need to put up with this. You can disobey God, here. You can do your own thing here. You’re suffering, for goodness sake. This is when you need to put the Word of God off to the side and look out for yourself. God will understand. This is a difficult situation.