So far in the book of Matthew, we have walked through the first three chapters and seen that as a superior researcher and writer, Matthew has given us three areas to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. First was the genealogical record, second his birth, thirdly, the world’s reception, and now in chapter 4 we will see his power over temptation.
Job may have been God’s “s”ervant who proved to be blameless but Jesus is the “S”ervant who not only proved blameless but left us with the truth of how to face the arch enemy of our souls.
The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus and led him into the wilderness. The Israelites were proven to be faithless but Jesus will prove His faithfulness. Sometimes we too are led into the wilderness to be proven. It is in these times of barrenness that we either rely upon God and His trustworthiness or succumb to the enemy’s bait.
We say Satan doesn’t get it, but in reality he does get it. He is persistent and his one aim is to destroy and change the plans of God. Allen Ross wrote: The temptation episode was God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, that He could resist sin, that he could defeat Satan. He has conquered and therefore can intercede for us. [Heb 4:14-16].
And so the temptations begin with Satan dangling his bait just as he did in the garden, in the wilderness, did with Peter and does with us today. Jesus was discerning and so we should be as well. Hebrews reminds us to be feeding upon the meat of the Word, memorizing it so when he comes calling, disguised as an angel of light or otherwise, we can discern him for what he is: a liar and a thief. We are told by Paul to put on our armor for we will be wrestling not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of darkness.
A truth we can count on: Satan sees only one side of God’s coin, he is not omniscient! Satan saw a garden destroyed but Jesus saw a wilderness–that is you and I, ready to be redeemed. Satan saw an earthly pinnacle but Jesus saw heaven’s portal – I am the Way, the Truth, the Life [ John 14:6]. Satan sought temporary worship of warring conflicting kingdoms but Jesus sought to bring men into God’s eternal kingdom exhibiting peace. Through it all, Jesus proved He was Conqueror and Victor, because He knew the right choice of scripture better than his tempter and He would not be deterred to be removed from God’s eternal plan for mankind. He was steadfast and immoveable [1Cor 15:58].
Upon the completion of the temptation angels came and ministered to Jesus. So when we have found our way of escape from the tempter’s grasp [ICor 10:13], we will be fed the manna of heaven or angel’s food as Irving Jensen called it.
While I or you face these temptations how will we be sustained? By the Word or by the flesh? Do we face the path of least resistance or are we ready with our sword and shield of faith etc. When the storm is passed how do we revel, in God’s glory or our own? Thoughts to consider.
But while we face these proving trials we must ask: What is it that sustains us in these times? When tempted and tried are we joyful and seek wisdom? [James 1]. Can we resist with scripture so the enemy must flee? [James 4:7]. Do we give God the glory when the storm has passed and we see His rainbow calling us to His work?