Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple  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,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 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.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (ESV) Matthew 4:1-11

We heard the Father’s voice at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17).  Moments later we learn that the Father’s pleasure did not guarantee privilege for the Son. Jesus’ preparation for ministry as our Savior required testing beyond His title.  He is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where all structures of earthly trust are removed such as friends, shelter, vocation, food, and safety. He encounters wild animals (Mk 1:12-13), exposure, isolation, and intense hunger for 40-days and nights.  The reality of Jesus’ humanity and weakened flesh made perfect Satan’s scheme to destroy God’s saving plan.

Seeking to exploit Jesus’ vulnerable flesh, Satan shrewdly tempts Jesus to question His identity as God’s Son and to perform acts of sin that would dishonor God.  In effect, Satan says, ‘turn this rock into bread and satisfy your body’s appetite, throw yourself down from the temple and bring praise to yourself, worship me and receive acclaim and glory.’ To each temptation, Jesus denies himself and replies with the truth of scripture, rejecting Satan’s lies while standing firmly on the promises of God.  

Why did the Son have to be tested?  The writer of the letter to the Hebrews explained to the early church, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted…For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ESV) Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16.  Jesus underwent severe testing and temptation so that he could sympathize with us.  He wants us to have confidence to draw near, repent of sin, and find unlimited mercy and grace. 

Child of God, the enemy is devious and wants to ruin your testimony and take you off plan. Do you find yourself feeling alone in the wilderness, far away from God’s favor and protection? Has your past left you vulnerable to Satan’s wicked exploits? Have you been satisfying your own appetites with Savior substitutes such as achievement, a full pantry, political ideology, friends, or material things?  Your Savior knows what it’s like to be blasted by Satan and urgently calls to you now, ‘Come, draw near, repent of sin and let me remove them as far as the east is from the west. Enjoy grace and mercy in this time of need.’    

Lord Jesus, you are awesome beyond description!  Thank you for enduring the wilderness and winning the battle with Satan so that you would know what it’s like for me to battle.  I know that I can’t fight alone. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me deep affections for your word so that I can fight Satan’s lies with your truth.  Cause the devil to flee from me and my house and empower me to deny myself and to trust in you and your plan for me from this day forward. In Jesus name, Amen.

Luke 9:23
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”