The First Temptations of Christ
In Matthew 4:1-2, we saw that the Holy Spirit told Jesus to go into the wilderness and fast for 40 days and 40 nights. We learned about the fast itself.
Fasting, we learned, was both a physical and a spiritual cleansing process. When Jesus finished his fast, he was hunger. This was when Jesus was tempted not once, but three times by Satan.
There are many people who would tell you that it isn’t fair to compare the Son of God’s temptations with our own. I don’t necessarily see that as a legitimate argument because as we will see here, his temptations were greater than ours ever could be.
The word tells us in I Corinthians 10:13 “There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with temptation also make a way to scape that you may be able to bear it.”. Based on this passage, we have no legitimate reason to submit to temptations.
This passage in Matthew shows how Jesus was tempted by temptations that are common to man. These temptations are commonly referred to as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life. By studying this passage, we can learn by Christ’s example how to overcome these temptations.
The First Temptation
In the first temptation, Satan tempts Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Jesus was hungry, and he could right then turn the stones into bread if he wanted. Jesus knew that he could do anything he wanted to do and turning stones into bread was not outside of his power. HOWEVER, Jesus knew that to turn those stones into bread was not in the Father’s will. He knew that God’s will for him at that moment was not for him to get his needs for food met in that manner. He knew that he needed to wait. He needed to be patient.He knew he was in a spiritual battle and he needed to fight this battle using spiritual weapons.
He used the Word of God to come against the temptation to give into his fleshly desires.
He said “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” -Deuteronomy 8:3
The Second Temptation
Then the devil took Jesus up to the holy city (whether he was there physically or simply in the spirit, the passage doesn’t say) what it does say is that he took Jesus to the highest point on the temple which was at the highest point in Jerusalem. He then suggested that he jump to prove that he was the Son of God. Then Satan quoted, or should I say misquoted Psalms 91:11-12
This passage says “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up with their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
What Satan said was,”he shall give is angels charge concerning thee and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
Satan’s modus operandi is to make subtle changes in meaning. Notice in the original passage, the angels were there to help him in his mission. Satan twisted it to mean that no harm would come to him, no matter what he did.
Jesus wasn’t tricked just because Satan quoted scripture. Jesus knew what the scripture actually said and he knew it in context. He said:
it is written, again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.-Deuteronomy 6:16
The Third Temptation
Then Satan took him to an exceedingly high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them and offered it all to Jesus under one condition, and that was that Jesus fall down and worship him.
The first thing to notice is that this was a definite temptation for Jesus. What Satan was telling him was that he thought he knew that there was no way for Jesus to win. Satan claimed to want to be the good guy and let Jesus have what he wanted. He could have the world, no questioned asked. Jesus didn’t have to do anything except worship Satan.
Jesus again quoted scripture. He knew that his father had him there on the mission of becoming the Savior of the World, that Satan was part of the problem, not part of the solution. He said:
Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written: Thou shalt worship God and him only shalt thou serve.-Deuteronomy 6:13
Satan left him and as Psalm 91:11-12 actually said, the angels came and ministered to Jesus there.