(Mat 4:3-4) The first temptation: an appeal to the lust of the flesh.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
a. When the tempter came: Notice that Matthew writes when the tempter came. In our lives, it is not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will face temptation until we go to glory.
i. “But let us do what we will, we shall be tempted. God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without temptation.” (Spurgeon)
ii. We should consider the circumstances that preceded the temptation of Jesus:· He was in an especially devout frame of mind before His temptation.· He was engaged in an act of public obedience to His Father’s will before His temptation.· He was in an exceedingly humble frame of mind before His temptation.· He was blessed by a heavenly assurance of His Sonship before His temptation.· He was filled with the Holy Spirit before His temptation.· He was completely separated from the world before His temptation.
b. If You are the Son of God: The question asked by Satan is more literally “since You are the Son of God,” instead of “if You are the Son of God.” Satan did not question Jesus’ deity; he challenged Him to prove it or demonstrate it through miraculous works.
c. Command that these stones become bread: This was a temptation to use God’s gifts for selfish purposes. Satan suggested that Jesus use His miraculous powers to provide food for Himself.
i. “Sonship of the living God, he suggested, surely means Jesus has the power and right to satisfy his own needs.” (Carson)
ii. This wasn’t a temptation to miraculously create great riches or luxuries, only bread. The Bible has many accounts of miraculous provision, some at the hands of Jesus. Yet Jesus would not command that these stones become bread, especially at the instigation of Satan.
iii. We might say that Jesus was being tested through His strengths, through His gifts. Would He allow His strengths to become traps? “He bids the Lord prove his Sonship by catering for himself; and yet that would have been the surest way to prove that he was not the Son of God.” (Spurgeon) We could say that the same temptation came to Jesus on the cross
And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Matthew 27:40 KJV
d. But He answered: Jesus didn’t silently disagree with Satan, He answered him – and He answered him from the Word of God. When Jesus quoted
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 thee 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 KJV
, Jesus shows that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God should be more precious to us than food itself.
i. What Satan suggested made sense – “Why starve yourself to death?” But what is written makes even more sense.
ii. “Hunger represents human wants, and the question was: whether Sonship was to mean exemption from these, or loyal acceptance of them as part of the Messiah’s experience.”
iii. It isn’t that Jesus refused supernatural help in feeding Himself; He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought Him when the time of testing was over.
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:11 ESV
It wasn’t a matter of refusing supernatural help; it was a matter of submitting to His Father’s timing and will in all things.
e. It is written: 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.
i. Jesus used Scripture to battle Satan’s temptation, not some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. Jesus fought this battle as fully man, and He drew on no “special resources” unavailable to us. “Out flashed the sword of the Spirit: our Lord will fight with no other weapon. He could have spoken new revelations, but chose to say, ‘It is written.’” (Spurgeon)
ii. He could have stood against Satan with a display of His own glory; He could have stood against Satan with logic and reason. Instead, Jesus used the word of God as a weapon against Satan and temptation.· He used a weapon that one can use when they are all alone.· He used a weapon to defend His Sonship.· He used a weapon to defeat temptation. He used a weapon that was effective because He understood it.
ii. We effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan’s seductive lies by shining the light of God’s truth upon them. If we are ignorant of God’s truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation.