Today we will continue looking at the temptation of Jesus as found in Matthew, chapter four. Yesterday we discovered that Jesus countered each temptation (three of them) by quoting scripture: "It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) For the first two temptations Satan appeals to Jesus' divine nature: "If you are the Son of God tell these stones to become bread." (Mat. 4:3b) And: "If you are the Son of God...throw yourself down..." (Temptation to just see how God would protect him by sending angels) (Mat. 4:6) Neither of these attempts work. Some temptations have no impact on us. Others do. Things you may be tempted by may not even appeal to me. Things that I may be tempted by may not appeal to you. Since these appeals to Jesus' divine nature failed, the devil had one more trick up his sleeve; appeal to his human nature.
"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this will I give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'" (Matthew 4:8-9)
Yes, the devil says, "Bow down and worship me, and I'll give you the world." Isn't that just like the devil today? Behind every temptation there is the offer of something appealing to our desire. Long ago I watched the Al Pacino movie entitled "Scarface." In the movie there was a scene where Pacino looked up in the sky and saw an airplane. The plane had a banner behind it that read "The World is Yours." His character became a very successful figure in the crime business and for a while the world was his. But, the movie ended with him riddled by bullets. The world he created came crashing down on him. The lines the devil uses today may sound different, but the deception is still the same. How about this line; "All this can be yours. All you have to do is..." How many adds have young ladies answered promising that they will be the next star?
Well, doesn't this all sound familiar to another story in the Bible...like the story of Adam and Eve? Was Jesus not tested in the same fashion as Adam? (yes and Eve, but you will see why I mentioned Adam) Remember, in the garden the fruit was good to look at. (lust of eyes) The fruit was good for food. (lust of flesh) And the fruit was desirable to make one wise. (pride of life) The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as the Second Adam. So, if the first Adam ate the wrong food, what will the Second Adam do? The Second Adam quotes: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Jesus is able to do what the First Adam could not do...resist the devil. So, let's recap a minute. Jesus was tempted in order to prove what type of messiah he would be. Would he establish that his kingdom was like that of the Roman government? (based on power) Or, would his kingdom be different, and be based on God's rule? (A kingdom not of this world. Governed differently; by love and not power) Jesus identifies with human beings. He does not rely on his divine nature, but trusts God to be his strength. (as human he relies on the divine nature of God) He is able to do what Adam could not do. But, then there is something else. And, this is important for Matthew's Jewish-Christian community.
Jesus quotes three passages of scripture in responding to the devil. But, he did not just quote any scripture. He quoted from the Law and, in particular, he quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy. Matthew 4:4 corresponds with Deut. 8:3....Matthew 4:6 corresponds with Deut. 6:16...Mathew 4:10 corresponds with Deut. 6:13. The passages in Deuteronomy were spoken by whom? By Moses to the people who were being tested in the wilderness. Hmm...Jesus was able to do, not only what Adam was unable to do, but also the Israelites. Israel gave in to temptation, but Jesus did not.
Jesus did quote scripture, but did you notice that the devil did as well? (verse six) Hmm...Is it a big deal to be able to quote scripture? Some people think it is. But, just remember, the devil could quote it too. In the devil's case he used scripture, or attempted to, in a way that was deceptive. Remember, scripture can be used for the wrong reasons. Just because someone is impressive in their "Bible knowledge" and ability to quote the Bible does not mean they are working for the Lord. As far as that goes, I have a saying. It would do us well to remember it: "No one truly knows the Bible. But, rest assured, the Bible truly knows each and every one of us." The devil quoted scripture, but so did Jesus. However, Jesus quoted it properly. There's another reason Jesus is shown quoting scripture. We will talk about that at another time.
Jesus confirms that he is not going to rule with earthly power and might. His kingdom will be God's kingdom. Always behind every temptation is the attempt to cause the one being tempted to go in a different direction than the one they are to take. God had a direction for Jesus, the one he was ordained to take, but the devil offered him an alternative. Before Jesus could ever be the messiah he had to prove what type of messiah he would be.
Well, how do we overcome temptation? Remember, Jesus hadn't dried off from the baptism before he was led to the desert to be tempted. Fresh on his mind may have very well been the words: "This is my Son." When we are being tempted it would do us well, to not only quote scripture, but to remember who we are. When, we are tempted to ( fill in the blanks) would it not be wise to repeat to ourselves "I am baptized...I am baptized...?"
Oh my, there is just so much to say about these topics. I have not yet said anything about the angels ministering to Jesus once the devil left him. But, I think we'll cover that when we get to Luke's gospel. Tomorrow we will look at the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Have a great day! -Pastor Rick