The Temptation of Jesus
Matthew 4:1-11

Matthew 4:1-11; "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2: And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
3: And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4: But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5: Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6: And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7: Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8: Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9: And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10: Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11: Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."

Shortly before this incident, Jesus had been anointed with the Spirit of God at His baptism in the Jordan River. Now, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to prove He was the Son of God and also the Messiah of Israel.

The first Adam met temptation in a beautiful garden: the last Adam met His temptations in the wilderness amidst hunger and the wild beasts. While He was there He was attended to by the angels. This was in keeping with God's promise in Psalm 91:11: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." Jesus fasted during those forty days but He evidently didnít sense hunger. Matthew says that after the forty days were over "he was hungry" (verse 2). The battle He was engaged in with Satan was so intense that it left Him no time to feel hunger. His physical demands had been put aside but at the end of forty days He was hungry, which is natural for a Man.

Dwight Pentacost writes; ďChrist was under the full control of the Spirit, and the purpose of the temptation was to demonstrate His sinlessness and prove His moral right to be Savior and Sovereign. Jesus was the Aggressor in the temptation. He forced Satan to put Him to the test so that His true character might be revealed. (That explains why He spent forty days in the desert before the temptations began. Satan sought to escape the confrontation.) If Satan had waited any longer, it would mean he conceded that Jesus was the sinless One.Ē

John Walvoord says: ďOrthodox theologians generally agree that Jesus Christ never committed any sin. This seems to confirm His absolute deity and was an absolute prerequisite to His work of substitution on the cross. Any affirmation of moral failure on the part of Christ requires a doctrine of His person which would deny in some sense His absolute deity."

Walvoord continues; "Christ had two natures, one a divine nature and the other a sinless human nature. If Christ had a human nature which was subject to temptation, was this not in itself evidence that He could have sinned? It is generally agreed by those who hold that Christ did not commit sin that He had no sin nature. Whatever temptation could come to Him, then, would be from without and not from within. There was no sin nature to suggest sin from within and form a basis favorable for temptation.Ē

True Bible scholars agree that Christ had no sin nature, and they also agree that His person was tempted. This is plainly stated in Hebrews 4:15. "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."

The reason that He successfully resisted the temptations of Satan is in the relationship between His divine and His human natures. Each of these natures, the divine and the human, had its own will. In every instance, His ultimate decision was always in harmony with the decision of the divine nature.

Temptation came to Christ by virtue of the fact that He possessed a human nature. The human nature can be tempted and might want to do something that was contrary to the will of God. In Christ, however, His human will was always subservient to the divine will and never acted independently. The will of God canít sin, and this will was in Christ.

James 1:13, states: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."

On the one hand, Christ, as a man, was tempted in all points except through that of a sin nature. On the other hand, His divine nature couldnít be tempted because God canít be tempted. While His human nature could be tempted, His divine nature couldnít be tempted.

Some people will argue that a person who canít sin canít be tempted to sin. This isnít correct any more than it would be to say that an army that canít be conquered, canít be attacked.

Jesus had to deal with all forms of human temptation except those that originate from an inwardly sinful nature. His will to obey God was stronger than these so Satan couldnít entice Him to sin. The possibility of giving in to temptation was completely negated because of His divine nature.

Matthew 4:1, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.Ē Jesus came face to face with the prince of the power of the air, with the god of this world, with Lucifer, the son of the morning, the angel who fell from his high estate of the first rank of heaven, and who is right now the leader of the hosts of darkness.

Satan approached Christ with the statement, "If you are the Son of God" verse 3. Actually, he was acknowledging the fact of the deity of Christ. If He wasnít the Son of God, Satan didnít have anything to gain by being there and tempting Him.

Satan was challenging Christ to prove the identity that was given Him at His baptism. God had identified Him there as the ďSon of God in whom He was well pleased.Ē

Satan wanted Him to prove that identity by doing a self serving miracle, "Command these stones to become bread." Verse 3.

The temptation of commanding stones to become bread brings out the devil's theory that the only reason for man's loyalty to God is that God meets every demand of our needs and that man's happiness comes from the satisfaction of his material desires.

Satan made that accusation against God concerning Job and should have remembered this wasnít true from that experience. Satan said to God, in Job 1:11: "But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."

The request to turn stones into bread was rational. God fed the Children of Israel in the wilderness when they were hungry. Why wouldnít it also be right for the Son of God to do the same for Himself when He was hungry?

Christís refusal demonstrated to Satan that His will was to be in absolute accord with the will of God. The Spirit of God had driven Him into that wilderness. His circumstances were God appointed; and Jesus absolutely submitted to the Will of God by continuing in His present circumstances. In John 6:38, Jesus stated, ďI came only to do the Fatherís will.Ē

The temptation was an attempt to draw Jesus away from perfect obedience to the will of God, and to cause a division between God the Father and God the Son.

Jesus was in the desert in the will of God. All He endured there in the desert was part of God's will for Him. Satan wanted Him to abandon the will of God and substitute His own will and prove that life sustaining food was more important than obedience to the will of God.

Suppose Christ had commanded the stones to become bread, then what? To do the work He came to earth to do, Christ had to live His personal life as a man, and yet in perfect dependence on God. Failure in either would make His mission here on earth a total failure and Satan would have achived his objective.

As for creating bread out of stones, man canít create anything, he lives by obeying Nature. To make bread, man has to plant and harvest, grind and bake his grain into bread so that he can eat and live. If Christ had created bread for Himself just by speaking a word, He would no longer be like you and me. He would have ceased to have the nature that made Him one with man. He came into the world to serve man and the moment He chose to serve Himself He would have no longer been able to save men. His human life had to be sinless and in perfect dependence on God, and absolutely obedient to God to shed His sinless blood as a sacrifice to God for man's sins.

Verse 4 is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3. "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In this temptation He showed absolute obedience to the will of God and absolute dependence on God to support Him in that obedience.

Verse 5 lists a second temptation. Christ was now taken to the highest point of the temple. Satan suggested that He throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and quotes Psalm 91:11-12: ďHe shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."

Christ showed His submission to Godís Word and now Satan was using Godís Word, the Scriptures, trying to force Christ to put Godís Word to a test. Itís amazing how well Satan knows the Scriptures, but he did spend time in heaven before he fell from the grace of God.

Satan was implying that Jesus, as a Son, had a right to put His Father to a test. The one who puts someone to a test is putting himself in the superior position. For Christ to put God to a test would be putting Himself in a position superior to God. You test someone because you donít have confidence in them. If you have full confidence in them, no test is necessary.

Christ answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16: "Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God."

Christ had submitted Himself to the authority of the Word of God, accepting it as the will of God. His trust was so implicit that there was no reason to put God to a test and He remained in perfect obedience to God's will.

After this, Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain where he "showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them." verse 8.

By some strange power, he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, the Roman empire, Greece, Judea, and Egypt, all the known kingdoms of the world including the unexplored lands, probably including America. Luke tells us that the devil gave Christ this vision "in a moment of time."

Satan said, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Verse 9

Right there in the presence of Jesus, He claimed the right to the kingdoms of the world and the claim was based on fact. Satan was laying claim to a title that Jesus Himself gave him at a later time, "the prince of this world." The fact remains he does exercise authority over all those who are in darkness, and because of that fact, these kingdoms had largely come under his control and were serving his purposes long before that time in history.

In Psalm 2, God the Father promised the Son the kingdoms of the world. God's will was to bring the Son to the throne by way of the cross. The devil implied that he could give Jesus what the Father promised without going to the cross, but one condition was attached: "If thou wilt fall down and worship me" Verse 9.

Satan fell from grace when he attempted to dethrone God, and usurp God's authority, and receive the worship, the honor, and the glory that belongs to God Himself.

Isaiah 14:13-14; "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." Satan's chief ambition is to receive worship belonging to God, and itís motivated by pride, a sin God hates.

When Satan invited Christ to worship him, he was making one final attempt to realize his ages-long ambition of claiming worship that belongs to God. Satan wanted this worship so badly that he was willing to surrender the entire realm he ruled over in order to gain that worship. Jesus simply quoted Deuteronomy 6:13: "Fear the Lord your God, SERVE HIM ONLY."

After Satan's three temptations of Jesus, Matthew said; ďThen the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.Ē Verse 11.

Satan is on the attack against the individual believer today. John wrote this in
1 John 2:16: "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

Satan can tempt an individual to sin through "the lust of the flesh," through "the lust of the eyes," and through "the pride of life."

He approached Christ by way of all three of these methods. The first test was in the realm of the lust of the flesh, the desire for food, and Christ was without sin in that test.

The second test was in the realm of the pride of life. Satan appealed to Christ's spiritual nature, to show the people His power, but Christ refused and was the sinless victor in this realm.

The third test was in the realm of the lust of the eyes. The kingdoms of this world were shown to Jesus, and He refused Satanís offer to turn them over to Him.

I quoted this verse earlier. Hebrews 4:15: "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.Ē

Look at some comparisons of the first Adam and the last Adam, (Christ):

The devil challenged the first Adam.
The second Adam challenged the devil.
The devil ruined the first Adam.
The last Adam ruined the devil.
The first Adam involved the whole human race in his defeat.
The last Adam included the whole human race in His victory.
The first Adam, as the head of the race, fell and dragged the whole human race with him.
The last Adam stands as the Head of the new race, and has the victory over sin and Satan, and has lifted all believers in Him to the heights of heaven.

At Jesus' baptism, God the Father declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.Ē (Matthew 3:17).

The temptation proved Godís confidence in His Son was well placed and it also proved the perfection of Christ as both Man and God. This sinless Son of God came into this world to redeem fallen man. The first man (Adam) had sinned and acquired a sin nature, so all who descended from him are therefore born sinners. God has always demanded a blood sacrifice for sin and His Son, Jesus Christ, had the only sinless blood this world will ever know, and He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross. He paid the price God sees necessary for your sins and my sins, and if we will come to Him in simple faith and confess we are sinners and ask Him to forgive us, we will be forgiven!

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