“It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
“On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7).
“Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matthew 4:10).
Following His baptism, the next major event of Jesus’s life is His refusal to give in to temptation by the Devil. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all deal with His noble act, whereas John does not. We shall not, however, discuss Mark’s version because it contains no words of the Savior. Today, we shall deal with only two of these three temptations and save the other for tomorrow when we consider John’s perspective.
According to Matthew, the Holy Spirit of God leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the bent one (as C. S. Lewis called hell-bent Satan), who is aware that Jesus has had nothing to eat for forty days. Thus, the Devil begins his spiel by targeting what he perceives as Jesus’s weak spot and suggests that He turn stones into bread for His consumption. Because Jesus knows that His Father will care for Him, He declines. In addition, He needs to witness for the Father and set a good example, and He is not about to cheapen His supernatural abilities.
Jesus’s refusal consists almost exactly of Deuteronomy 8:3—“man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord”—and He jumps on this opportunity to point out that spiritual nourishment is more important than food for the stomach.
Next, Satan takes Jesus up on the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and suggests that He jump off to demonstrate His ability to have angels bear Him up under such circumstances. But Jesus says that one must not tempt God, and He quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 to back up the proper choice that He makes on this occasion. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.” (In other words, do not put the Lord on the spot.)
Satan is essentially asking Jesus to demonstrate that He is able to force the Father to do His bidding, and such obedience by the Father would have upset the proper order of things in a way and to such a degree as to court disaster. In that instance, all righteousness would definitely not have been fulfilled.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for making sure that we understand Your nature. Lord, give us understanding and good spiritual health. In Your name, we pray. Amen.