The Temptation of Jesus – Matthew 4

Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore, since we have a high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)

Jesus time of ministry was beginning. He needed to spend some time with His Father prior to this, so He went out into the wilderness to pray. He spent forty days fasting and praying, focusing on what He was to do over the next three years. At the end of this time He was weak; He was vulnerable, and Satan knew if he was going to be able to do anything, now was his chance. So he came at Jesus “guns blazing.” He knew where Jesus would be weakest, and that’s where he targeted Him.

After fasting forty days, Jesus was hungry. “Turn the stones to bread; let’s eat,” Satan goaded. But Jesus used Scripture to refute him. “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The time He’d just spent communing with God was more precious to Jesus than any bread could have been.

So now Satan needed to try another tactic, throw Scripture back at Him. Satan took Him to Jerusalem and they stood on the pinnacle of the temple. “If You are the Son of God, jump! Doesn’t Scripture say the angels will keep You from even stubbing Your toe?” I can just see Jesus rolling His eyes at Satan with this one before stating, “It also says, ‘Don’t put God to the test.'”

The last temptation we read about struck Jesus at the heart. He knew that He was going to be rejected, that He was going to have to die for humanity, and that few were going to stand by Him. Satan knew that too. So he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, the men that he controls, and said, “All this is Yours if You’ll just bow down and worship me!” This one was a no brainer for Jesus, “GO AWAY. Satan! It is written, ‘Worship and serve God ONLY!” Well what Jesus says, Satan has to do, so he left. Angels came and ministered to the Lord.

What can we learn from this? Satan knows his target; he knows our weaknesses. He targets us when we are weakest. But Christ used Scripture to defeat him and so can we. “Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:11) Memorizing Scripture is key! If you learn a verse a week, that’s 52 in a year, 52 chances to defeat Satan. Make it a goal. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” (NIV) Trust God; He’ll give you a way out. If you have Scripture memorized, He’ll bring it to mind so you have something to throw back in Satan’s face, just like Jesus did.

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