Matthew 4:1-11, Deuteronomy 8:1-10
Temptation is an appealing shortcut, a temporary desire that seeks to substitute a quick fix for a planned course of action.
Jesus was not immune to temptation; He endured it for a greater purpose than His rights or comfort. Let’s take a closer look at Matthew 4 to learn more.
Temptation 1: Bread and the Stewardship of Power
In the temptation of Christ, Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. Why did Satan do this? This was not forbidden in Scripture, so Jesus could have said, Well, the Bible doesn’t say anything about it specifically, and I am hungry. We learn what was really at stake here in Christ’s response. Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” What was Jesus getting at?
“Man shall not live by bread alone” comes from the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert. They wanted to go back to being slaves in Egypt because they were hungry and the Egyptians fed them. God had promised to provide for them, but their hunger drove them to consider abandoning God to satisfy an appetite.
Satan wanted Jesus to abandon His confidence in His Father’s goodness and use His power to serve Himself. But Jesus was a steward of the power He possessed, and He knew that meant He should not use it solely to ease His personal discomfort. Yes, Jesus had the power to turn the stones into bread, but He was depending on His Father’s provision. Jesus was a steward of His divine power.
Temptation 2: The Temple and Devotion to God
Next, Satan tempts Jesus to throw Himself from the pinnacle of the temple. Here we see the Christ’s devotion to walk the road the Father had placed Him on. By throwing Himself off of the temple and having angels catch Him, Jesus would have been acting flippantly with His life— which He had come not to save, but to offer up as a ransom for many (Matthew 10:45). Satan was suggesting to Jesus that He didn’t actually have to go through with this. Many times our devotion isn’t tested through extreme evils, but by the daily temptation to take shortcuts or seek after our own comfort.
Temptation 3: The Kingdoms of the World and the Boundaries God Sets
In the final temptation, Satan offers the world and all its kingdoms in exchange for Jesus’s worship. But these are not Satan’s to give. The earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1); Jesus understood this. Just because something could be yours if you took it, doesn’t mean you should. Spiritual discipline recognizes that God sets boundaries and that they are for our good.
In His temptation, Christ demonstrates the benefits of a spiritually disciplined life. He is trained in the Scriptures and grounded in His faith in the Father. This does not spare Him from temptation, but it does help Him navigate it.
Our sense of entitlement often blinds us from seeing God’s will. Practicing spiritual discipline equips us to face the temptations that come our way. Let us pursue godly disciplines so we may remain devoted to the will of God in all circumstances, even in the most tempting ones.
written by Britton Sharp