Today’s Reading: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. – Matthew 4:1-7
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. God was not tempting Jesus but He was allowing Jesus to go through a time of temptation, just as He allows us to experience temptations.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. – James 1:13-14
By fasting through this time of temptation, Jesus was showing his intention to depend on God for his strength and God only. He was giving God his full attention, away from the distractions of his daily life and away from the satisfactions of the earth’s nourishments. Jesus was able to say no to temptation because his focus was on God. Knowing Jesus would be hungry, Satan tried to play on this weakness in order to take advantage of his vulnerability, just as Satan tempts us where we are the most vulnerable or weak.
During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:3-4
Jesus’ response to each of the temptations was to quote Scripture, a great model for how we can handle temptation. But we have to study the word and be prepared by knowing the Scripture in order to be equipped to use them in similar situations in our lives. If God’s word sustains us, shouldn’t we spend time in His presence soaking in what He says?
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” – Matthew 4:5-7
Satan wanted Jesus to test God by jumping off the highest point of the Temple and then ask God to rescue Him. Listen carefully because I think we do this more often than we realize. Satan tempts us to do something we know we should not do by convincing us that it will be simple to ask God to forgive us after we have sinned – to rescue us from our consequences. If God is full of grace and all we have to do is ask for forgiveness, why not enjoy a time or moment of sin and simply ask God to forgive us afterwards? I believe we should take Jesus’ response seriously: “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you worship me.” – Luke 4:5-7
My first reaction to this next temptation is that Satan is lying when he says he has the ability to give earthly kingdoms and authority to men. But, the more I think about it in the context of other scriptures, the more I think maybe Satan does have this ability. That would explain why so many sinful people have gained high position and earthly wealth. But beware. If we compromise and live a life for earthly gain, we are worshipping Satan.
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. – Matthew 4:10-11
Our response to Satan’s temptations could be just as powerful as Jesus’ response was. I love how the NLT translates this response: “Get out of here, Satan.” With strength and determination we can face temptations by declaring that we will worship God and serve only Him! So you are wasting time, Satan. Get out of here!
When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. – Luke 4:13
Satan left Jesus until the next opportunity came for him to tempt the Son of God. Satan will be back. He is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy (1 Peter 5:8). We can be prepared for this temptation by giving God our full attention, studying the word of God and building our faith so that we can easily say, “Get out of here, Satan!”
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. – Philippians 1:28-29
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16