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Matthew said Christ Jesus was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit at the Jordan River. Then, the apostle said, the Savior was led by the Holy Spirit “into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness. He was hungry. Matthew said, “And when the tempter came to him,” as if to say it is only to be expected Satan would attack in times of solitude and physical weakness.
What happened here is one of the most beautiful events in the Gospels, and here is the reason why that is so. Because of his sin, the first Adam fell and sin entered the human race. The devil rejoiced, believing he had successfully closed the door to Paradise. At least, he thought he closed the door.
In the Garden, God told Satan, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3: 15). Matthew 4 clearly reveals, in part, the fulfillment of what God said long ago. Christ bruised Satan’s head since He was victorious in this instance of temptations and at the cross, effectively crushing the power of Satan over mankind. Satan bruised Christ’s heel. While it was necessary for the Savior to suffer and die for us, it was in God’s divine plan that Satan would only bruise the least part of Christ’s body.
Knowing Christ Jesus was hungry, Satan asked, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” The devil’s methods never change. In the Garden he asked if God would really deprive them. Now he asks if God would really deprive His Son of food.
Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” As a man, Jesus felt real hunger, but He would not work a miracle for himself. Instead, He would trust His heavenly Father to care for Him.
In the second temptation, the devil put Jesus on a pinnacle of the temple. If He was truly God’s Son, jump from that height and angels would prevent Him from being harmed.
“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” Jesus said, quoting Deuteronomy 6: 16.
No doubt, this would have drawn widespread and immediate attention to Jesus in Jerusalem. The devil takes advantage of people in high places because they have so far to fall. The devil knows how to use Scripture to tempt people. In this case, he might have hoped to cause Christ to kill Himself.
The final temptation came as Satan took Christ to a high mountain where he pointed out the world’s kingdoms. Jesus could have these if He bowed in worship of Satan. Jesus responded, “Get thee hence, Satan,” and then quoting from Deuteronomy 6: 13 said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”
The devil failed in tempting our Lord. There is victory in Jesus who loves and understands us.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4: 15).
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]
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