THURSDAY, MARCH 30
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 4
When we finished chapter 3 yesterday, things were on a spiritual high. Jesus had just been baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and God the Father spoke. Then we get to chapter 4.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Then, it seems, everything goes south in a hurry. There is so much in this chapter that we should talk about. There is so much in this chapter that I want to talk about. But I only have one page to write on and that means I have to be very selective.
I’ve decided to just focus on the temptation that happens at the beginning of the chapter. The Bible says after Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry. (I want to say, “Ya think?” I have trouble going four hours without food. Sometimes 40 minutes is a stretch.) It was then the devil showed up to do his dirtiest work.
You probably noticed Satan tempted Jesus three times. This is significant because it may very well be every temptation fits into one of three categories. The Bible says, “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)
So think about this. Satan’s first temptation had to do with Jesus’ physical hunger (desire of the flesh). The second one had to do with proving He was God’s Son (the pride of life). The third one had to do with seeing “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (the desire of the eyes).
Oddly enough the first temptation recorded in the Bible (Genesis 3) fits this same pattern. It may be that Satan actually is limited in what he can do. But he is just really good at doing it. And, too often, we are easy marks.
Another interesting thing about this temptation in the wilderness is that the first two times Satan attacked Jesus it was about Jesus’ identity: “If you are the Son of God”. This attack was at the very heart of who Jesus is which may be the deepest attack against any of us. When we struggle with our identity or feel compelled to prove who we are, this attack may be in play.
Here’s something else to think about. In the first temptation, Satan addressed Jesus as “The Son of God”. But the Scripture Jesus answered with begins with “Man”. In other words, Jesus is not facing these attacks from His divinity. He is facing these attacks in His humanity. This should give us so much hope. Jesus defeated these temptations as a man, albeit the perfect man. But, if we learn from this, we too, should be able to experience more victory over our temptations.
That brings up the question of how was Jesus able to be victorious. I am quite convinced His victory is based on two things: one, the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16); two, the power of God’s Word. That, by the way, is the only basis that any of us have for victory: allow the Spirit to fill you (Ephesians 5:18) and stay in the Word of God.
Speaking of God’s Word, it is also important that we see that Satan knows and used God’s Word in his temptation of Jesus. That’s kind of scary. But again if we go back to the first temptation in the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve, “Has not God said…” Now more often than not when Satan uses God’s Word, he omits parts of it which means he misuses God’s Word. But that reinforces the fact that we desperately need to know what God’s Word actually says so we will be better prepared to recognize the truth from error, however slight.
Welp, my space is gone. And I was just getting started on this amazing chapter.