Today’s Reading: Matthew 3:7-4:11
Key Verse: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1 (NIV2011)
Since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, temptation has been a constant, unrelenting part of human life. Many have tried to avoid, resist and ignore it. But no one has ever found a place or a circumstance where temptation does not exist.
In Matthew 4:1–11 one of the most monumental spiritual battles of all time. It is the account of the personal confrontation between Jesus Christ and Satan. The devil’s temptations directed at Jesus in the wilderness (of Judea) were observed by no other human being. He was entirely alone, and it is therefore obvious that we could know nothing of what transpired there unless Jesus Himself had told His disciples (and consequently Matthew) of it. He does so to reveal to us the secret of victory in our struggle with Satan and temptation.
As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, “Are you trying to break this bridge?”
“No,” the builder replied, “I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break.” In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren’t designed to see if Jesus would sin, but to prove that He wouldn’t.
Time and again, when Jesus was confronted with temptation by Satan He responded plainly and simply with the Word of God. In fact, in verse 4 Jesus gives us the twofold example of responding with the word of God while telling us that we shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from God. This was a fight and Jesus pulls out the two-edged Sword! (see Ephesians 6:11-17.) Moreover, all the verses he quotes are from Deuteronomy 6 and 8. Could it be that the Jesus’ devotion time that morning had been in this portion of God’s Word? Can you see why it’s so important for us to study God’s word daily? Can you see why it’s important for us to memorize Scripture?
The devil’s purpose is to frustrate the plan of God and to usurp the place of God. Yet what Satan intended to lead the Son into sin and disobedience, the Father used to demonstrate the Jesus’ holiness and worthiness. That is God’s plan for all of us as His children. Christians cannot be tempted in a way that God cannot use for their good and His glory. [James even tells us to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials [peirasmos], knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).
Don’t be surprised when temptation comes, be prepared. In this spiritual battle that is being waged all around us, our greatest weapon is the word of God. It is not as though we have been left unarmed to deal with temptation, we have the very words of God to enable us!