Sunday, January 27, 2008

Matthew 4:2-4 The Temptation of Jesus Part III

Satan often attacks us where we are weakest and when we are at our weakest. I can think of time after time in my life where Satan provided opportunities for me to give in to my flesh and disobey God. Sometimes I’ve done well and stood firm against those temptations. Other times I’ve looked like a skinny cornerback charged with tackling a 250 pound running back who has made it past the linebackers and I’ve gotten run over. While Christ did not have an inherent sin nature for the devil to appeal to, Christ did face the testing described in this chapter when He was at His weakest. As we read about this encounter, we can be encouraged that we have the same spiritual power available to us to stand strong in the middle of our trials and temptations.

In verse 2 of this chapter, we are introduced to the physical state our Lord was in when the tempter came to test Him. We are told that He had not eaten for 40 days and nights and that “afterward, He was hungry”. Our Lord fasted in order to devote Himself to prayer and communion with God the Father in preparation for the testing He would now face. I can’t even begin to imagine how hungry He must have been. When I was studying music in college, I had a semester where I went from 8 in the morning until 7 or 8 at night with only a 30 minute break on Mondays and Wednesdays. I would leave Jazz Band rehearsal (which ended at 5:30) early sometimes because I had not had time to grab lunch and I was shaking from a blood sugar low. That doesn’t even begin to compare to what our precious Lord endured. It was at this moment of physical weakness that Satan came on the scene.

Verse 3 records the first temptation Satan brought against our Lord. He was hungry and Satan hoped to appeal to His physical desire for food in order to motivate Him to sin. He said, quite simply, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” God had called Jesus “Son” in the previous chapter. Satan now uses that title in his temptation. Basically, I think he was saying “Ok. You’re the Son of God. Why should you suffer from lack of food? I mean, if you’re going to live as a human you’re going to have to eat. You’d only be doing what is normal and necessary. Go ahead. Make yourself some bread.”

This temptation, though, really had nothing to do with food. There is a much bigger picture for us to see here. As Philippians chapter 2 tells us that Jesus, as God the Son, became willingly submissive to God the Father. He did not become less that God. He simply willingly subjected Himself to God the Father. Therefore, He would only do what God the Father directed Him to do (Luke 2:49, John 8:28, John 12:49, John 14:31). If He had changed these stones to bread to satiate His hunger, He would have been operating outside of the direction of God the Father. Of course, this is what Satan wanted Him to do.

Jesus’ response is a marvelous example to believers when we encounter trials. First of all, Jesus used the previously written word of God, not a new revelation. He could have spoken a new truth and it would have been just as true as what He quoted. However, He appealed to scripture that had already been recorded. In verse 4, Jesus said “It is written ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”. As noted in Vincent’s Word Studies, “It is written” is in the Greek perfect tense. In other words, the phrase could be rendered “It has been written and stands written even today.”He then quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3. In that verse, Moses was teaching the people that God allowed His people to hunger and then fed them with manna in the wilderness. There was a spiritual purpose to this physical trial. God wanted to teach them to rely on Him. Instead of feeding them with food as they would have expected, He used supernatural means to provide for them. Therefore, the lesson they should have learned was that no matter what the circumstances, God can and does provide for His people. By quoting this verse, Jesus was saying that He was willing to be obedient and wait on His Father to provide even if He was hungry because God was fatithful and would provide for Him.

As we read the account of Jesus’ first temptation by Satan, we can be encouraged to remain faithful to God and to rely on His word when temptations come.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. . .
That last bit, even though He was hungry, he could wait on The Father. What a lesson is that? No matter what the need, we're better off to wait on God to meet that need. I pray God helps me remember that when I need it.