Matthewby Mike Raiter
Sometimes, in reading Matthew's gospel, we forget that it is about Jesus. For example, when reading about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness by Satan, we often quickly move to thinking about what these verses teach us about temptation in our lives, and how we can get victory over our temptations. While His temptation was not unlike ours, the focus is not on us but on Jesus, and how His cosmic battle with Satan had eternal implications for the world's salvation.
The same Spirit who has just empowered Jesus for ministry now leads Him into the desert. This time of trial is part of God's necessary preparation of His Son to fulfil His ordained mission. Once again we see Jesus fulfilling Israel's history. Just as God's ″son″ Israel spent 40 years being tested in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:1-5), so too does the true Son spend 40 days being tested. However, where Israel failed and that generation perished, Jesus obeys and demonstrates that He is the true Son who can lead His people into their true rest.
Essentially, Satan tempts Jesus to use His position and power as God's Son to satisfy His own needs and desires. Jesus sees right through Satan's deceit. In the first temptation, Jesus demonstrates that He knows His hunger is meant to teach Him to rely on God's word (vv. 2-4). Israel was given bread in the desert but lacked faith (Exodus 16). Jesus renounced bread and trusted God. In the next temptation, Jesus proves that, unlike Israel, He will trust and obey God, and not put God to the test (Exodus 17:2-7). Jesus knows that demanding miraculous signs is a mark of unbelief. Finally, again unlike Israel who bowed before a golden calf, Jesus affirms He will only worship God. Jesus will one day receive all the kingdoms of the world, but it will be through his obedience to death on a cross.
It is appropriate to learn personally from Jesus' temptation. Satan's ultimate purpose in temptation is to keep us from trusting and worshipping God. Like Jesus, our greatest weapon in our battle against Satan is Scripture (vv. 4, 7, 10). Yet we should not allow our own need to distract us from grasping how much was at stake in Jesus' temptation. If Jesus had fallen, we would still be in our sins. A failed Messiah could not be the world's Saviour. Our eternal security rested on His earthly obedience. Praise God for His faithfulness in the face of temptation!
What was Satan's purpose in tempting Jesus?
Jesus taught us to pray, ″Lead us not into temptation.″ What lessons can we learn about such times of trial from this passage?