Matthew 4:1-10. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
If you read yesterday’s reading from Matthew 3, then you can see how this story in Matthew 4 is quite shocking. Even troubling. Matthew 3 ends with the story of Jesus’ baptism. The heavens opened up. The Spirit came upon Christ. The Father declared his love and pleasure over the Son. Jesus is the Messiah Servant of God! The next story in your Bible should be Jesus performing some great miracle or preaching the Sermon on the Mount. But the Spirit doesn’t lead Jesus to the mountain top. He leads him to the wilderness to be tempted.
Jesus went from being publicly affirmed by God in the waters of baptism to being all alone, starving, and tired. He went from hearing “this is my beloved Son,” to hearing IF you are the Son of God… His very identity being challenged, the love of the Father being called into question, all with nothing less than the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. You see this isn’t just a personal test for Jesus. It’s the test of all mankind. Jesus, the new Adam, is once again being offered god-likeness over God himself. Jesus, the new Israel, has passed through the waters and into the wilderness to face the testing of his perfect covenant faithfulness to God.
But where Adam and Israel both failed, our Savior will succeed. And that is the greatest truth of this temptation story – Jesus is worthy. He alone passed the test. He alone trusted God. He alone remained without sin. And soon he alone will ascend the hill of Calvary, bearing the cross of mankind.
But what he alone has accomplished he now shares with you and me. Christ our champion, has secured the victory for all who would trust in him, and comfort for all who are in Christ.
The comfort of knowing that our temptation is both normal and necessary for our growth in grace.
The comfort of knowing that the Spirit of Christ is with us, even in the wilderness.
The comfort of knowing that our weakest times in life are actually our greatest opportunities to experience the glorious grace of the Father.
The comfort of knowing that we do not have to win the battle with temptation, for Christ alone has already won it!
The comfort of knowing that because we trust that our identity as a beloved son of God is secure, we actually can win the day by day battle with temptation.
And the comfort of knowing that “to live is Christ” means we are God’s beloved children, who are never alone, even when we face grueling temptation, because Jesus, our brother and champion faced grueling temptation alone in our place, and won.
What temptations are you facing today?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you have Christ’s righteousness allow you to face temptation with greater honesty and humility?
Christ in you
How can the Christ that defeated temptation provide you a way to escape temptation today?
Playlist: Fighting Temptation.
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