Read Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness took place immediately after his baptism. The Spirit came upon him, identifying him as God’s Son, and then drove him out into the desert. Far from a life of comfort and ease, Jesus’ identity as God
in the flesh placed him in the sights of the Tempter. God’s Anointed One was not going to live a life of ease and power. The presence of the Holy Spirit upon him brought the
Tempter straight to him.
What might Jesus’ experience of temptation immediately after his baptism tell us about what we can expect as children of God in this world? Should we expect to be free from temptation?
It doesn’t seem like it would have hurt anything for Jesus to acquire some bread for himself. The reality of many of our daily temptations is that they often seem quite harmless. This first temptation of Jesus looks like something harmless, but underneath it is the question of whether Jesus really is the Son of God.
How do the temptations to “small” sins feed into more drastic sins? How are all sins tied to the original sin of faithlessness?
In the next two temptations, the devil raises the stakes. In each case, the supposed gain is worthwhile. If Jesus threw himself from the temple, God’s power would be demonstrated because he would save Jesus. If Jesus worshiped the devil he would gain the whole world, which is exactly what he had come to accomplish. In both cases the devil is tempting Jesus to replace God’s Word with another.
If God is gracious and merciful, what would be the harm in Jesus taking the shortcuts offered to him by the devil?
How are temptations often disguised as harmless shortcuts or insignificant actions?
For our sake Jesus refused the path of glory and instead walks the way of the cross. In love, He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Php 2: 6– 8). He did all this for our sake, because we, too, have failed God’s test. Jesus, our substitute, has defeated Satan for us, setting us free from sin, death, and the devil’s power that today we might go in peace and serve the Lord.