Jesus’ Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

Bible Passage: Matthew 4:1-11

In this passage we see Jesus enter into the wilderness for 40 days and be tested by the devil. Jesus, both fully God and fully human, is able to empathise with us in our humanity in every way. Just like us, Jesus needed to hear the Father define his true identity, as we search for meaning and purpose, our identity is only fully realised when we look to our heavenly Father.

Resisting temptation: Through this passage we see Matthew showing us that evil is real, and personified through the tempter, the Devil, who Jesus called Satan. Looking around and at our news feeds, we too can see that evil is real. Jesus’ kingdom, however, was in direct challenge to this evil. Jesus shows us how to resist temptation. We see when Jesus is hungry, that’s when the Devil struck, when he was vulnerable (tired, hungry, angry, lonely). Most of us are prone to temptation when we are vulnerable. Jesus is prepared and ready for the temptation, because Jesus has been in a extended period of silence and solitude, 40 days alone with the Father fasting. Jesus had also grown up in the Scriptures and knew them by heart, Jesus quotes Scripture to Satan. We too can walk in this model, and resist temptation and habitual sin.

Israel and the Wilderness: The Scripture Jesus rebukes Satan with were all from three passages in Deuteronomy (chapters 6-8), so it’s worth looking at the passage and theme Jesus was using. Deuteronomy 8:1-5, Moses is giving the Israelites a speech before they enter the Promised Land. Similarities: Wilderness, 40, testing, hungry, feeding, God’s son. Where Israel failed, Jesus came and succeeded. We can probably identify better with Israel in their failure, so we can be thankful that all our failures have been taken by Jesus.

Identity: Jesus receives His true identity from the Father. After Jesus’ baptism God spoke over Jesus ‘This is my son, with whom I am well pleased’ (this passage follows straight after Jesus’ baptism). Jesus needed to hear that from the Father, Jesus as man did not know everything, he set that aside when He became human – Luke writes that ‘Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding’. If Jesus needed to hear what heaven said over Him, how much more do we need to hear from God who we are in Him? Who Jesus is, the Son of God, is really important, and the same is true for us. If you know who God is, then you know who you are. The first temptation is to turn the stone into bread because Jesus was hungry, He’s tempted to take care of His own needs, at its root this is the Devil testing Jesus on who He trusts. We can often be tempted to take things into our own hands, especially when we’re in the waiting.

 Potential Applications:

  • Encourage church family to try a day of fasting this week and to take time when you’d be eating to spend with God, perhaps memorising Scripture. Share with your community group how you did.
  • Take time at the end of service for a response, for anyone feeling like a failure or facing temptation to receive prayer.