Today we’re reading Matthew 4.
In this chapter, Jesus was tempted to sin by the devil (vv. 1-11), moved from Nazareth–where he grew up–to Capernaum after John was put into prison (vv. 12-16), and began preaching (v. 17, 23-25) and assembling his disciples (vv. 18-22). Jesus’ temptation accomplished at least two important things:
First, it confirmed his holy nature. Adam was created in God’s image so he was holy and sinless, yet he chose to disobey to become a sinner. Jesus was God so he was holy in his divine nature and had lived a sinless life to that point. In order to become the second Adam, he had to continue to choose not to sin. This period of testing between his baptism (chapter 3) and the beginning of his preaching (4:17) demonstrated that he was morally qualified to be our substitute and to begin calling people to repent from their sins and worship him as king.
Secondly, Christ’s temptation left for us a pattern–a case study–for how to defeat temptation. Today, I want to focus on one aspect of that. Satan is a very clever creature. He allowed Christ to wait in the desert for forty days without food so that he would be depleted physically before tempting him to use his divine power to make food. Christ could have easily justified doing what Satan encouraged him to do. There was no virtue, no salvation to be found in him if he died of starvation, so he had a good reason intellectually to justify miraculously turning those stones into bread. And there was nothing morally wrong with miraculously making food. Jesus would later feed thousands of people by miraculously multiplying loaves and fish. Among all the lessons in this chapter, reflect on this one: many temptations in life will come to you when you are weak. They will seem harmless–who would be harmed if Christ turned stones in the desert into bread? Also, temptations will often seem justifiable. The challenge for each of in the moment of temptation is to trust God’s word, his promise, even if the sin seems harmless and totally justified. God calls us to trust him by doing the right thing even when the wrong thing seems like the best or only option we have.