After being baptized by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-11). Fasting is when a person makes a choice to eat no food (the only thing he would consume was water). It was often done to show devotion to God and was often accompanied by prayer and Bible study.
Most fasting was only done for a short period of time (a day or even part of the day). But Jesus fasted for forty days! That was an incredibly long period of time. Jesus was not trying to set a world record for the number of days He could go without eating. Instead, He was beginning His ministry and this was a time to think about His work and devotion to God.
Since the Lord was also fully man while on this earth, it was at the end of the forty days of fasting that He became hungry. The devil (or tempter) then came to test Him. He knew that if he could persuade Jesus to sin, then God’s entire plan to save us would be destroyed. Jesus as a sinner could not die for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). But instead of giving in to Satan’s temptations, Jesus resisted every one of them!
I want to encourage you to read Matthew 4:1-11 this week. As you do consider the following points:
- The things Satan offered were not wrong within themselves. The first temptation involved turning stones into bread, thus satisfying hunger (certainly there was nothing wrong with eating!). The second one involved jumping off the highest point of the temple and letting God save Him. The third one involved Jesus ruling the kingdoms of the world.
- Yielding to these temptations would have demonstrated a lack of trust in God. a. In the first temptation, Jesus could have easily turned those stones into bread. But He knew that God had a plan to provide for Him, and submitting to Satan’s suggestion would have been a failure to trust in God’s plan. Even though He was extremely hungry, Jesus humbly resisted Satan’s idea and once the temptation ended, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11). It is likely that these angels gave Jesus the food He needed. Satan wanted Jesus to think “God will not take care of you.” He was wrong! b. In the second temptation, Jesus could have thrown Himself off the temple and commanded angels to save Him. But again, He trusted that God would come to His aid once this ordeal was over. In fact, it is interesting that Satan misapplied Psalm 91:11-12 to persuade Jesus. These verses are about trusting in God’s care, but Satan tried to use them to teach the opposite! Jesus certainly recognized this and refused to let Satan put God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16). c. In the final temptation, Satan promised Jesus that if he bowed down and worshiped him, he would then give Him all the kingdoms of the world. This temptation failed because Jesus knew that was God’s plan anyway (Revelation 11:15). God was going to give His Son all the kingdoms to rule over as Lord, but it was going to be accomplished through Him suffering and dying on the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to take the shortcut! Jesus refused to worship Satan and trusted His Father.
- Jesus defeated Satan by doing two things: a. He answered each temptation by using scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He knew the scriptures and accurately applied them. Let’s follow His example (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hosea 4:6). b. But beyond quoting and using scripture, ultimately Jesus defeated Satan because He trusted His heavenly Father. He trusted in what the scriptures promised and God took care of Him. In God’s time Jesus received food, strength, and the kingdoms of the world. Trusting in God the Father led to the best outcome, and the same will be true in our lives today (Proverbs 3:5-8).
From this account we see that the devil is a ferocious enemy. He was alive and active in the time of Jesus, and the same is true today (1 Peter 5:8). But when we know and trust in God’s word we too can defeat him! Always remember that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is always a way out of temptation. As James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Did not these very things happen in the case of our Lord (Luke 4:13)?
– Shawn Jeffries