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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

February 4, 2015

Matthew 4:1-11

Minister Joseph Williams

  • Today's passage takes place immediately after Jesus has been baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. As soon as He was baptized He saw the Spirit of God descending on Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven saying, this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matt 3:16-17). When this voice of God the Father spoke from heaven, everyone knew that Jesus was not just another man being baptized. They knew Jesus was the perfect Son of God, identifying with sinful man. By this, everyone knew that Jesus was different. Jesus was baptized to be identified with sinful man, but He was also baptized to be identified to sinful man.

  • vv. 1-2 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.

  • Led by the be tempted After identifying with sinners in His baptism, Jesus now identifies with them in severe temptation. This was a necessary part of His ministry, so He truly was led, by the Spirit. This does not mean that the Spirit provided the temptation, because God does not tempt any man. James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. However, the Holy Spirit did desire that Jesus' temptation should take place at this particular time. This testing of Jesus, which was divinely intended, has as its primary background Deuteronomy 8:1-5. There Moses recalls how the Lord leads the Israelites in the desert 40 years "to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." Here at the beginning of his ministry Jesus is subjected to a similar test and shows himself to be the true Israelite who lives "on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." And whereas Adam failed the great test and plunged the whole race into sin, Jesus was faithful and thus demonstrated his qualification to become the Savior of all who receive him. It was moreover important that Jesus be tested/tempted just as Israel was and as we are, so that he could become our "merciful and faithful high priest" and thus be able to help those that are being tempted. As the one who remained faithful in temptation, he became the example for all believers when they are tempted. God uses tests to strengthen the believer, not to tear them down.

  • Tempted by the devil....... God surely tests his people, but it is Satan that tempts to evil. Satan, the devil tempts to kill and destroy. Temptation is a certainty for everyone. Yet Jesus' temptation was more severe. It was more severe because He was tempted directly by the devil himself. It was also more severe because there is a sense in which temptation is "relieved" by giving in, and Jesus never did. Therefore He bore levels of temptation we will never know by experience. Jesus did not need to be tempted to help Him "grow." Instead, He endured temptation both so He could identify with us (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15), and to demonstrate His own holy, sinless character.

  • The period of forty days and forty nights is a familiar period of testing in the Bible, both in the days of Noah and for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus will succeed where Israel as a nation failed.

  • vv.3-4 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

  • [The first temptation; an appeal to the lust of the flesh]

  • When the tempter came....Just as it was with Jesus, so it is with us in our lives, it is not a question of if the tempter will come, but when the tempter will come. We will face temptation until we go home to glory.

  • If You are the Son of God, tell these stones The question asked by Satan is more literally "since You are the Son of God." The devil is not casting doubt on Jesus' divine Sonship, but is tempting him to use supernatural powers as the Son of God for his own ends. This is an attempt to cause Jesus to use God's gifts for selfish purposes.

  • Jesus answered.... Jesus didn't silently disagree with Satan, He answered him - and He answered him with authority from the Word of God. When Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, he shows that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God should be more precious to us than food itself. From man’s standpoint, what Satan suggested made sense - "Why starve yourself to death?" But what is written makes even more sense. By relying on the power and truth of God's Word, Jesus was willing to fight this battle as a man; He could have easily rebuked Satan into another galaxy, but resisted Him in a way that we can imitate and identify with. Jesus used Scripture to battle Satan’s temptation, not some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. Jesus fought this battle as a man, and He drew on no "special resources" unavailable to us. We can effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan’s seductive lies; by shining the light of God's truth on them. If we are ignorant of God's truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation.

  • vv.5-7 Then the devil took Him to the holy city, and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If You are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written: 'He will command His angels concerning you,' and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

  • [The second temptation: An appeal to human pride.]

  • If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down.... Satan is tempting Jesus to "force" the Father into a supernatural event; Satan appeals to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly demonstrated.

  • For it is written.... The devil can use this phrase also. He quotes Scripture, and we can trust that the devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts. This time, the devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, and took it out of its context to say, "Go ahead, Jesus; if you do this the Bible promises angels will rescue you, and it will be a spectacular self-promotion." Sadly, many are willing to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible today. A preacher can pretty much say whatever he wants if he quotes a few "proof-texts," and people will assume that he really speaks from the Bible. Jesus understood from His knowledge of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) that Satan was "twisting" the scriptures. Jesus knew how to correctly handle the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15b).

  • It is also written, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." Jesus again replied with Scripture, but scripture applied correctly, within its proper context. He knew that "forcing" or manipulating the Father into such a demonstration would be aimed at tempting God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid. This warns us against demanding something "spectacular" from God to "prove" His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more "spectacular" than that.

  • vv. 8-11 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me. Jesus said to him, "Away from me, satan! For it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Then the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.

  • All these things I will give You.... Essentially, this vision invited Jesus to take a shortcut around the cross. Jesus came to win all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor back from Satan’s domain, and Satan offers them to Jesus, if He will only bow down and worship him. It again may seem a small thing; Jesus could lay claim to all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and do so without enduring the cross. All He would have to do is give Satan what he has been longing for ever since he fell from glorious to profane: worship and recognition from God Himself. This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He is still the one who said I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

  • Away from me, Satan! For it is written.... Jesus replied with Scripture again, and commanded the devil to leave. In the same way we can resist the devil and he will flee from us (James 4:7). It worked for Jesus (Then the devil left Him) and it will work for us.

  • Behold, angels came and attended Him: God never forsakes those who endure through temptation. Just as angels came and attended to Jesus, God will find a way to attend to us and meet our needs as we endure temptation. Jesus showed that the only effective counter to Satan’s deception is: God's truth, not man's wisdom. First, we must see temptation for what it is - a lie. Then, we must combat temptation with the word of God. Then, we must always build ourselves up in the truth, and have it in our heart. We cannot wait until the tempter is at our doorstep before we seek the truth of God in His Word. We must realize that this is war, and our enemy comes well prepared. Therefore we too must be prepared when he attacks. How then do we prepare for this battle? Read Ephesians 6:10-18 for your answer.

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