Matthew 4 – the Temptation of Jesus

Matthew 4 – from The Open Bible
Link to Temptation of Jesus, Part 2
Link to Temptation of Jesus, Part 3

1.Then Jesus was led up by the Holy Spirit into a desert place to be tested by the devil.

2.He fasted for forty days and forty nights. After this, He was hungry

3.Then the tempter came to Him and said “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.”

4.Jesus however answered him in reply: “It is written in the Scriptures that “People should not exist by eating bread alone, but also by consuming every word that proceeds from God’s mouth””.

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This passage describes the part of the Bible where Satan, also known as the devil, tempted Jesus

Now Jesus was many things that we are not.  He was, and continues to be God.  He is utterly perfect, and without sin.  None of these apply to anyone else who has ever lived.  The Bible makes it clear that we are ALL sinful, we have ALL fallen short of God’s glory, and continue to do so.  Romans 3.23 says that “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory”.  When I was younger, I used to read that as “all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory”.  But the translation makes “fall short” a present continuous tense.  That is, that we do it in the present, and we continue to do it. It is not that we fell short of God’s glory once upon a time, and are OK now, but rather that we continue to fall short of God’s glory, day in, day out.
So Jesus was perfect (and continues to be), and yet the devil did not refrain from tempting Him.  Let us accept that the devil will tempt us who are not perfect, never have been perfect, and never will be perfect.

Now, let us look briefly at the way Satan tempted Jesus in this passage.  The devil said said “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread”.  Now we know that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and forty nights.  The text helpfully adds in verse 2 that after all this fasting “He was hungry” (as anyone would be, surely! Perhaps it explicitly states this to make it clear that even though Jesus was God, such a feat of fasting still affected Him physically, as it would affect anyone). So when the devil tempted Jesus to make stones into bread, this was a legitimate need of Christ’s.  He had been doing God’s work, abiding in God’s presence for 40 days and 40 nights.  He was entitled to eat. And yet Christ recognised the suggestion as having an evil root.
So one way the devil works is to tempt people with legitimate needs.

I think that this is very vital to grasp as we all have legitimate needs.  I think that we need to recognise when we are facing temptations from anywhere regarding how to deal with these.  Sometimes, the tempation might not be to do something utterly evil.  Rather, it might be a temptation to settle for the less holy way of accomplishing something, or to not be as vibrantly committed to God as we could be.

 

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