I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it. Jesus is our example of how Christians are to live. If we base our behavior on secular lifestyles, we will fall short. We all face challenges in life, but when we look to Jesus, we can learn to live more pleasing lives for Him.
There isn’t an in-depth record of His life before He began His ministry on earth. We know the family moved to Egypt for a while (Matthew 2:13), and we also know that when He was 12 the Jewish teachers were astounded by His knowledge (Luke 2:46-47). When it was time to begin His ministry, it was important for Him to go alone into the wilderness to fast and pray.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
The Holy Spirit guided Jesus, and He will guide us if we listen to His prompting. The word “tempted” comes from the Greek word “peirazo” and is more accurately testing rather than temptation. Why did Jesus have to be tested? First of all, Satan was arrogant enough to think he could make Jesus fail. By not falling for Satan’s treachery, Jesus showed Satan that He would defeat that wicked liar. Second, the example of Jesus overcoming the testing shows us that by adhering faithfully to God’s word, we can stand strong and not give in to sin. Satan will always try to test us when we are the weakest, and so he did with our Lord. Jesus was God incarnate, but He was also human, so we can follow His example.
After forty days without food, Satan assumed Jesus was weak and an easy target. Jesus’ body may have weakened, but His strength of spirit never faltered. Satan first attacked the weakness of the body. Jesus was hungry.
“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:2-3).
Satan tried to confuse Jesus by placing doubt in His mind, just as he had confused Eve in the Garden of Eden. He challenged Jesus to prove who He was by saying “If thou be the Son of God….” Satan knew who Jesus was, but he wanted Jesus to prove Himself. Jesus wouldn’t perform magic tricks for Satan. Later in His ministry, Jesus turned a few fish and some loaves of bread into enough food to feed multitudes of people, but on this day, He wouldn’t amuse Satan.
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Jesus quoted Scripture. He didn’t twist the meaning, nor was it taken out of context. “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make the know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
These words were spoken to the nation of Israel as a reminder of all God had done for them in the wilderness. Just as Jesus was hungry in the wilderness, so were the Israelites after they left Egypt. God fed them with manna. Actually, it was Jesus who sustained them as they wandered.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:47-51).
It is written… Jesus is the Bread of Life. Feed me, Lord, that my soul will never hunger.
Pride doesn’t give up, and neither did Satan. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:5-6).
Again, Satan tried to cause doubt by saying “If thou be the Son of God….” Satan just keeps throwing out the same fiery darts. His tactic has worked among much of humanity, but not against Jesus Christ. Jesus never forgot who He was and didn’t have to prove anything to Satan. Once again, Satan had twisted Scripture.
“Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against the stone” (Psalm 91:9-12).
All Satan asked was that Jesus prove who He was. Is that so bad? Angels would protect Him, right? If Jesus gave into the temptation to prove Himself to the god of this world, then Satan would go away, right? The heavenly angels would indeed protect Jesus if He called, but now wasn’t the time to call them.
“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).
The word “tempt” here is “ekparazo” and means “to put to proof God’s character and power.” God doesn’t have to prove anything to Satan. Satan knows Scripture and can twist it to make sin seem like a good thing. Christians need to take Jesus’ example and use Scripture without twisting it.
“Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee” (Deuteronomy 6:16-17).
Massah is where Moses struck the rock and water flowed from it. “And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel and because they tempted the LORD saying, Is the LORD among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).
It is written that Jesus Christ is our Rock, and from Him flows Living Water. Lord, let me drink from Your Living Water that I will thirst no more.
Satan is driven by pride. He should have given up, but he tried one more test. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9).
Jesus knew what He would face in a few short years. He would be beaten to a bloody pulp and crucified. Jesus, who had no sin, would take every sin ever committed by mankind upon His own shoulders. Wouldn’t it have been easier for Jesus to bow a knee and worship Satan? That would have defeated God’s plan for our redemption. Jesus had to shed His blood as the final sacrifice to take away sin.
We face that testing, too, when we become a living sacrifice for our Lord. Satan tests us by putting temptation in our way. It may seem easier to give in to temptation. Just bow before Satan and join the lost world in sin. That way we won’t be laughed at when we skip a beer-bash or are mocked because we won’t commit adultery in order to live for Jesus who died for us. It is written that Jesus chose to suffer and be crucified for my sin rather than bow to Satan. He fulfilled prophecy and gives eternal life to everyone who calls on Him for salvation.
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10).
Jesus is our example. When facing temptation, we can always find Scripture to guide us and to lead us away from the temptation that leads to sin.
“Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
We are to only bow our knees and worship the Lord. We only serve Him. So, if Jesus was just a man, then we aren’t to worship Him, right? After the Resurrection, the disciples were all gathered in a locked room. The risen Christ appeared and Thomas was convinced that Jesus was, indeed, the Christ…the Messiah…God Almighty.
“And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:28-29).
Jesus, may I always worship You in spirt and in truth. My Lord and my God.
I’m amazed at the pride and arrogance of Satan. He actually thought that he could cause Jesus to stumble. It was pride that caused Satan to fall from his place among the heavenly angels.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou has said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Pride was Satan’s downfall, and it will also get in our way of serving our Lord. Satan, that wicked liar, won’t always be spreading his prideful lies.
“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15).
Until that day we need walk close to our Lord and not allow pride to stumble our walk with Him. We must stand on Scripture as it is written without twisting it to accommodate our own lusts. Satan tried to test Jesus, and he will test you too.
After the testing came relief. “Then the devil leaveth him and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11).
As Christians, we can count on testing and temptation. Eve had tried to debate with Satan, and he was able to confuse her and make her believe God was the liar. He made sin look tempting, and by twisting God’s words, he convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. When facing temptation, don’t try to match wits with Satan. Simply stand firm on Scripture and do what God requires.
How did Jesus counter the attacks? He quoted Scripture. It is written, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Jesus, may I always follow Your example and live to please You.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” – God breathed.
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