Jesus Tempted and Tried
JESUS IS TEMPTED AND TESTED
Matthew 4: 1-11
Our challenge this year is to “Learn More About Jesus”…and that is what we are going to do again this morning.
- If you remember last week, John was preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
- And people from Jerusalem, and Judea, and the region around were coming to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.
- And as John was telling the people about the One who was to come that was mightier than John was…One who would bring the Holy Spirit to some and fire to other, Jesus came to be baptized by John….not because of sins that He had committed…but He was baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”…to obey the will of God.
- And after He was baptized the Spirit of God descended on Him “as a dove”…and God declared out of heaven, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
- Jesus, the Messiah, is now ready to begin His work as Savior of the world.
But first, He must spend some time in the wilderness. Look if you will at chapter 4:1:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Now, let me give you some important information to be harvested from this one verse.
- Jesus was the sole human witness of His temptation…no one else was there…therefore, this story must have originated from Him.
- Since it originated with Him it is obvious that He confirms the existence of the devil. Some today dispute that the devil exists at all.
- Since Jesus was tempted…and yet Jesus had no sin…then we know from this experience of Jesus that it is not a sin to be tempted.
Now, the express purpose for Jesus being “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” was “to be tempted by the devil.”
- The word “tempted” literally means “to be stretched out”…”to be tried to the full strength”.
- This was no minor temptation that was easy to say “no” to.
- This is not like some tempting us to eat a piece of chocolate…or tempting us to take a strong drink.
- This was an ordeal that would “tempt” Him to the utmost limit…that would “stretch Him to the fullest.”
And the word “devil” in the Greek is the word “diabolos” and it literally means “slanderer, “false accuser.”
- This word is sometimes used in the N.T. to refer to the way men are…they are slanderers…liars.
- But here it is used to speak of Satan…it is not speaking of simply an “unclean spirit” that possessed men and was cast out by Jesus.
- This word devil speaks of the “adversary of human souls”; we might say this is “The devil himself.”
- So Jesus was tempted to sin by the strongest solicitations…the strongest enticements…the strongest attempts possible, not only in the physical realm but also the spiritual real.
- No one has ever been tempted like He was.
So look now at verse 2: And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
- In chapter 4:2 Luke says that Jesus “ate nothing during those days.”
- Think about that for a minute: 40 days and 40 nights…in the wilderness…alone…with nothing to eat.
- Jesus wasn’t just hungry, He was famished!
- Hunger is one of the strongest desires that a human being can experience…people have been known to eat almost anything due to hunger…in some cases even human flesh.
- Jesus Is what we might say, “starving”…and this is the occasion for the supreme assault by the tempter…40 days with no food.
Mark and Luke indicate that Jesus was tempted during the whole of the 40 day and there is no reason to dispute that.
- But what you have here with Matthew is Matthew is describing the supreme effort by Satan at the conclusion of the 40 days when Jesus is the most vulnerable and Satan in all his power made the final assault on Jesus.
Look now at vs. 3: And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
- Do you think a piece of bread would have tasted good to Jesus?
- This was no small temptation!
But notice Satan doesn’t just tempt Jesus as a result of hunger…Satan also tempts Jesus with some pride: “If you are the Son of God”…just prove it.”
- How many of us have not had someone tell us, “If you think you are so good…you’re the expert, let’s see you do it!”
- “If you are the Son of God…perform a miracle…turn these stones to bread and satisfy your hunger! Prove that you really are the Son of God!”
- And out of pride Jesus could have said, “I’ll just show you!”
You see, what the devil is doing here…his purpose was to get Jesus to obey him…
- If he could do that…if he could get the Messiah to obey him…the Messiah’s kingdom would be doomed…and all of mankind would be lost.
- So the devil makes his appeal to Christ in the strongest, most alluring, and most enticing way.
Now, look at Jesus’ response: The devil says, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Vs. 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”
- Did you pick up on that? As soon as Satan makes his suggestion…where did Jesus’ mind go to? The scriptures! “It is written!” “Deuteronomy 8:3!”
- These are the first words spoken by our Lord after His entrance into His public ministry and It is significant that the first words spoken by Jesus is a declaration of the authority of the scriptures.
- Jesus made the word of God His rule of authority.
- He declares here that the things of the scriptures are undeniable…even to Satan!
- And Jesus meets every temptation by a quotation of scripture!
And look at what He says: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”
- If you look at the context of Deut. 8:3 Jesus is referring to the time when God led the Israelites into the wilderness…and Deut. 8:2 says that the reason He did that was “to humble them, and to test them, to know what was in their hearts, whether they would keep His commandments or not.”
So what Jesus does here when He refers to Deut. 8:3 is He is saying, “The Holy Spirit has led me here…this is a test to see if I will obey my Father’s commands and be faithful to Him…or if I will give in to Satan’s temptation…I will pass this test!”
So look what the devil does next, vs. 5: Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand 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 give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'”
Now, we have no knowledge of how the devil took Jesus to the holy city and how he had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple…and the truth is it doesn’t matter.
But look at what the devil says to Him: “If you are the Son of God”…again there is this temptation of pride…”If you are the Son of God” then prove it!”
- And then the other temptation is: Prove your faith in God! And prove that God is trustworthy!
Look what he says. He quotes from Psalm 91:11-12: “Throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'”
- If the devil can just get Jesus to obey him…to do what he says he has won!
But look at Jesus’ answer…again His immediate response is the word of God.
- He quotes from Deut. 6: 16: Jesus said to Him, “On the other hand it is written, You shall not put the LORD Your God to the test.”
- The basis for Deut. 6:16 is found in Exodus 17…God had freed the Israelites from bondage and led them into the wilderness…and they complained against God because there is no water…and they are ready to go back to Egypt!
- And Moses says, “Why do you test the Lord? Why do you not trust Him?”
- And that is what Jesus is saying here: “Satan, you want Me to obey you…you want me to prove My faith…to prove God…well, instead of obeying you I am going to simply trust My Father…I am going to be faithful to Him…I don’t have to prove Him…His word is good enough for Me.”
So the devil tries one more time…perhaps with his greatest enticement, vs. 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 things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
- Some say that all these kingdoms of the world weren’t the devils to give.
- If that is true then where is the temptation? Surely Jesus knew as much about these as the devil did?
- Just think about this temptation and all that it held: All the kingdoms of the world and what they possess would be His.
- If Satan could just get Jesus to obey Him…whatever it takes…tempt Him when He is the most vulnerable…tempt Him with pride…tempt Him with food…tempt Him by quoting scripture…tempt Him with all the world’s possessions…whatever it takes…and Jesus…”all you have to do is fall down and worship me.”
- “Make me your god! Give me your allegiance!”
And what does Jesus do again…He immediately relies on scripture: Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”
- Jesus quotes from Deut. 6:13
- And notice that Jesus emphasizes “only.”
- “Satan, there is only ONE God and you’re not Him.”
Now vs. 11: Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
Now, what is it that we need to learn from all of this?
Well, first…notice in vs. 1 that Jesus was “led up by the Spirit”…”to be tempted by the devil.”
- Jesus was subjected to this “temptation” by the will of God!
- Why would God do this?
Well, look at Heb. 4:15: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
- Jesus can sympathize with our human failures…He is able to understand our sin and why we sin…and the reason He can is because He has stood in our shoes!
- The difference is, He was without sin….but still, He knows…and He sympathizes with us.
- And because He does…because He knows how strong temptations can be…because He knows how powerful Satan is…He is willing to help…HE is willing to intercede with God on our behalf.
- That is why the Hebrew writer says this in the very next verse: “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.”
- Because He endured “temptation in every way”…He understands when we sin…and because He does we can confidently approach the throne…”to receive mercy and grace.”
- He endured the temptations so that we can be saved.
But then there is another side to this.
- His being tempted by the devil and overcoming that temptation renders man without excuse.
- “God, you don’t know what my situation was…you have never been there…so you can’t condemn me for doing what I did!”
- Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness renders man without excuse…and it emphasizes all the more to all men that they cannot save themselves but He can.
Also, His being tempted by Satan impresses on us the importance of knowing the scriptures.
- Or it might be that it impresses on us the danger of not knowing the scriptures.
- In each instance Jesus immediately went to scripture to defeat Satan.
- And it works the same way for us.
- You tempted to lie…but because of scripture you know what the consequences are of lying…you know that it is wrong…and you know what God wants you to do.
- You are tempted to cheat…to live immorally…to be proud…to be jealous…a knowledge of the word of God can and will help you to overcome those temptations…but a failure to know the scriptures can cause you to give in and as a result suffer the consequences of sin.
- Jesus’ experience impresses on us the importance of knowing the scriptures.
And finally, we need to realize that with every temptation comes a test…and with every test comes a temptation.
- Every time Satan tempted to sin it was a test to see if He would remain faithful to God.
- And every time He was tested to see if He would remain faithful to God He was tempted by Satan to sin.
- He passed the test every time…I hope we will all strive to do the same.
Now, every one of us is being tested…and we are being tempted.
- We are being tested by God to see if we will let this story and its lessons cause us to be more like Jesus…and we are being tempted by Satan to ignore it.
- We are being tested by God to see if we will be faithful to God…and we are being tempted to obey Satan.
- You must decide.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023