May 282016

Word of GodMatthew 4:1-11

The Temptation of Jesus

So much of the world doubts the existence of Satan. Have we lost a sound doctrine of Satan?



When you talk about Satan, you must talk about hell – and since everyone is going to heaven … well that is a fly in the ointment.

So Jesus was baptized – Heaven opened up and a grand declaration is made! What should happen next? Cake – Balloons – A post baptism party?

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

  • You would think, Jesus of all people, would be raptures right up to heaven.
  • The last verse of ch 3 “my beloved son…”
  • And Satan says “oh yay??? Let’s see.
  • Why led by the spirit? Deut 8:2
  • “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
  • This is not accidental – Jesus did not come out of the waters of the Jordan, get confused and make a wrong turn and say “darn, how did I end up here in the wilderness.
  • We have seen this with the Israelites in the desert. In a way Jesus is reenacting their wilderness time.
  • The Israelites did not succeed at all – in fact only 2 of the original travelers went into the Promised Land.
  • Jesus is now Israel reduced down to one – Jesus accomplishes what Israel could not do – the salvation of the world.
  • What about us? This is what happens to all the baptized.
  • Now you begin to fight against the devil. Now the target is on your back.
  • The Christian does not go onto the battlefield – the Christian becomes the battlefield.
  • How is this played out in the Holy Baptism liturgy? When the pastor asks, “Do you renounce the devil and all of his works and all of his ways?”
  • Is the devil happy to hear an affirmative response?
  • After baptism, we & are standing in the wilderness – with the devil prowling around like a roaring lion seeking to devour you – the baptized believer.

2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

  • For any of you fasters – what is your longest fast?
  • He fasted 40 days and 40 nights
  • If you were a Jew you would fast 40 days but not at night
  • See how the Muslims fast at Ramadan.
  • 40 days and 40 nights … hmmm, sounds like a flood of hunger. LOL

3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

  • Jesus is almost dead – hungry, thirsty and THEN the devil shows up to tempt him.
  • The 1st temptation was physical – food after 40 days.
  • How did the Israelites react when they were hungry and running out of food? Grumbling – whining – complaining
  • Jesus could have sat up there with Satan, having a donut and coffee saying “I’m good for now.”
  • Note the wording – If you are God??? Just like the Garden of Eden – you can’t trust God’s word.

4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  • How did Jesus respond? – with scripture – “it is written”
  • Note that Jesus did not say “well let’s talk about this Satan.”
  • You need to look at this first and foremost as a gift from Jesus, not as an example … although that can come later. But the gift is this – we can learn to pray.
  • “Lord, when we are in the wilderness, help us to trust the Father’s word.”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple

  • What do you think was going on here?
  • Almost seems like a scene out of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

6 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.”

  • 2nd temptation – testing God.
  • How did the Israelites act when they were stuck in the desert?
  • Discouraged and started taking things in to their own hands.
  • The Golden Calf – idols – looking to surrounding gods.

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

  • Again Jesus fulfills what Israel could not.
  • Look at us today – the marketing that comes to us and says “you can do it yourself – take control!”
  • Jesus is Israel reduced to one – what Israel could not do, Jesus did.

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

  • 3rd temptation = Power, Riches and Possessions

9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

  • Worship another god – even if it is just a little pinch of incense to Caesar.
  • All that the Caesars ever asked was that his citizens, people of all religions, once a year offer a pinch of incense and declare him god – once a year.
  • You didn’t have to give up your religion, just acknowledge him

10 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.’

  • Satan acts only at the will of the true God.
  • This is a good Bible verse to memorize to fight off temptation – “away with you Satan – I shall worship the Lord MY God and him only shall I serve.”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

  • If Christ was tempted, then we shall surely be tested.
  • Temptation is not sin … giving in to temptation could be sin.

  22 Responses to “The Weekend Word”

  1. I love, for example, in v. 4 where Jesus quotes Deut 8:3 that Jesus authenticates that OT Scripture as a word that comes from God’s mouth.

  2. Jean, good point … good post from MLD again … except for that water baptism thing (of which we all should partake) … i wonder what our Lord thinks of our confusions (yes, i know Lutherans are not confused 🙂 )

  3. I wonder what Jesus was doing out in the wilderness for forty days and 40 nights.

  4. “So much of the world doubts the existence of Satan. Have we lost a sound doctrine of Satan?”

    I think we have. But, and I don’t know which we lost first, the doctrine of Satan or of sin itself, much of the world also doubts the existence of sin leading to eternal condemnation. It’s kinda “intolerant”.

    Result: You can’t preach the Gospel to the righteous.

  5. Much of the church denies Satan and sin.

  6. Back to the 40 days I think it was Satan’s strategy to let Jesus stew for 40 days and not work on him until the end. “Let’s see how well this Jesus can think on his feet after 40 days out here.

  7. I thinks it’s important to note here that it was the Spirit that led Jesus to the wilderness. The devil is “God’s devil” and God can and does use his wicked desires to accomplish holy goals.

  8. The biblical texts Jesus used as his key weapons help us to see how this remarkable story fits into Matthew’s gospel at this point. They are all taken from the story of Israel in the wilderness. Jesus had come through the waters of baptism, like Israel crossing the Red Sea. He now had to face, in forty days and nights, the equivalent of Israel’s forty years in the desert. But, where Israel failed again and again, Jesus succeeded. Here at last is a true Israelite, Matthew is saying. He has come to do what God always wanted Israel to do—to bring light to the world (see verse 16).

    Behind that again is the even deeper story of Adam and Eve in the garden. A single command; a single temptation; a single, devastating, result. Jesus kept his eyes on his father, and so launched the mission to undo the age-old effects of human rebellion. He would meet the tempter again in various guises: protesting to him, through his closest associate, that he should change his mind about going to the cross (16:23); mocking him, through the priests and bystanders, as he hung on the cross (27:39–43, again with the words ‘if you are God’s son’). This is no accident. When Jesus refused to go the way of the tempter he was embracing the way of the cross. The enticing whispers that echoed around his head were designed to distract him from his central vocation, the road to which his baptism had committed him, the path of servanthood that would lead to suffering and death. They were meant to stop him from carrying out God’s calling, to redeem Israel and the world.

    The temptations we all face, day by day and at critical moments of decision and vocation in our lives, may be very different from those of Jesus, but they have exactly the same point. They are not simply trying to entice us into committing this or that sin. They are trying to distract us, to turn us aside, from the path of servanthood to which our baptism has commissioned us. God has a costly but wonderfully glorious vocation for each one of us. The enemy will do everything possible to distract us and thwart God’s purpose. If we have heard God’s voice welcoming us as his children, we will also hear the whispered suggestions of the enemy.

    But, as God’s children, we are entitled to use the same defence as the son of God himself. Store scripture in your heart, and know how to use it. Keep your eyes on God, and trust him for everything. Remember your calling, to bring God’s light into the world. And say a firm ‘no’ to the voices that lure you back into the darkness

    Wright, T. (2004). Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (pp. 25–27). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

  9. But the spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted. I find it interesting that Satan chose to wait until day 40 to begin and didn’t just hammer Jesus for the entire 40 days.

    I am glad to see that NT Wright’s 1st paragraph agrees with me. I will show through my study on Matthew that Jesus piece by piece has replaced ethnic, geographic Israel with himself. Israel as a nation is gone, kaput, finished, non existent in any remaining biblical way.

    After reading Matthew through anyone who still stands for an Israel in any prophetical way is just in denial.

  10. MLD,

    I do think it’s critically important to understand that Jesus fulfilled all that Israel failed at.
    Most evangelicals are not exposed to this teaching despite it being a theme that runs continually and deeply through the Gospels.

    Having said that, I still believe that Israel has a prophetic place in eschatology…

  11. Having said that, I still believe that Israel has a prophetic place in eschatology…

    Perhaps more wrath – that’s all I see.

    Back to the denial of Satan – is it safe to say that except Christians, everyone else is a foot soldier for Satan?

  12. I think that it is overstating the matter to say that everyone except Christians are foot soldiers for Satan.
    I think it would be more accurate today that the unredeemed are in a place where they are very vulnerable to deception and attack.

    Most of the really satanic stuff I deal with is perpetrated by Christians…

  13. Well you just use a term ‘satanic’ which has no meaning in relation to a Christian. A foot soldier of Satan could just be a nice little old lady who pats her grandson on the head and says,’surely you don’t believe all of that Jesus stuff do you? Someday you will grow out of it.’

  14. MLD,

    I do not believe that there is anything more satanic than abuse in the church that wounds and scatters the sheep.

    I won’t even get started on the political stuff that confuses and conflates the kingdoms of men with the kingdom of God…

  15. The unredeemed are under Satan’s dominion, are under the Law – which is the power of sin – which leads to death and condemnation.

  16. Satan attacks Christians and the Church, because (1) it already possesses the unredeemed, and (2) it can no longer accuse believers before the Father, because Satan has been cast out of heaven.

  17. isn’t everyone outside of Jesus in slavery? no matter their situation, aren’t they at Satan’s beck and call? however, i believe that his is quite happy to leave them to their own devices until he needs them – you can serve Satan in a church or as a President or as an ugly neighbor or as a insidious, unbelieving interfering granny or … the opportunities are endless

    Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days and nights meant that his body was pretty stressed and debilitated and, yet… wasn’t the Holy Spirit strengthening him to go through, to answer Satan with cogent, perfect responses?
    As a man could he not have “had it all” right then and there and as God, he could have – i dunno – squashed the devil? ‘course that would have meant that God would have had to start all over again with a new plan, which i gather wasn’t possible ….. what an interesting thing to think on, the “what-ifs” of this event

    Michael’s comments above – amen

  18. #8-“Behind that again is the even deeper story of Adam and Eve in the garden. A single command; a single temptation; a single, devastating, result. Jesus kept his eyes on his father, and so launched the mission to undo the age-old effects of human rebellion. ”

    IMHO that is worth repeating as that in a nutshell is the whole story, but oh my how it unwraps… maybe, we are too familiar with the Book… maybe, we lose the miracle? dunno

    ( i became great today 🙂 my grandson became a father )

  19. I like N.T. Wright. He says a lot of things that will make one think. I think it is interesting that Michael quotes him, as he is certainly not a Calvinist. 🙂

  20. Mr. Jesperson,

    Wright still identifies as Reformed, but that is irrelevant to me.

    Calvin admired quoted and learned from men like Luther, Bernard, and Chrysostom and I believe I can be taught from many traditions as well.

  21. Congratulations, Em!

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