The 1st Temptation of Jesus
The Test of Sonship | Can you really trust your Father?
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus the man
It’s so easy to think that in the hard moments Jesus was just kind-of a man. The concept of fully man and fully God can be so hard to wrap our heads around, but Jesus was truly a man in the hard times too. He submitted himself to the conditions and boundaries of man to demonstrate that we too can overcome. He chose to identify with us, all the while living a life truly dependent on God. It was sheer humility that any God would choose the restrictions of His own creation for their sake. This passage is a perfect example of that humility, Jesus was hungry, just like we would be hungry. It says in Hebrews 4:15 that we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Jesus was our model, our example of how to live and what to value. Fasting, by design, places the spiritual need above the natural. This passage reminds me of John 4 when Jesus talks with the Samaritan women at the well. When the disciples come to find Jesus and He says that His bread is to do the will of the Father; to obey His voice. He was frustrated with the disciples for assuming that He was speaking of physical food.
After the first challenge by satan in verse 3 Jesus appeals to the written word in response. Why would Jesus need to quote anything? He is the Word, anything he said would have technically been the word… Jesus instead places honor on the law of Moses and gives us a tool in the process for warfare against the enemy in our own lives: That we can also use God’s specific word regarding a situation to strike down any attack of the enemy that comes against us!
After Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13-17 his identity is confirmed by the Father in verse 17- this is my Son, whom I love, in him I am well pleased. From this position of identity Jesus is “led by the Spirit” (not by the devil), into the wilderness to be tested. After our identity is established by God, it is then confirmed and solidified within us when we can withstand the direct opposition to it’s truth and still believe. It shouldn’t be surprising when God leads us into an environment containing challenging circumstances after great breakthrough in our lives. It’s because he wants us to walk forever in the freedom that comes after the declaration of truth. He wants us to know it’s true because we stood when everything in the natural pointed to the opposite.
Notice that satan’s first words to Jesus question God’s last words. He always comes to steal the word that has been planted in our hearts by God.- “If you are the Son of God’ tell these stones to become bread”. This is the same method satan used with Adam and Eve to get them to question God’s nature and provision. He usually doesn’t outright lie at first, he prefers to sow doubt regarding the truth. With Eve, he didn’t say- “you should separate yourself from God through disobedience”, of course not. He said “did God really say you can’t eat this fruit?”
The enemy is tempting Jesus in his current practical area of lack, “this food will solve your practical need that God is obviously neglecting”. He is challenging the Father’s character- why would your Father send you into this place where you would be in so much lack and pain?— I thought you were his beloved son, that’s what he said right? So many times we can buy that lie when we don’t understand our season or why God would allow the circumstances that are taking place. God is not less faithful and loving just because we have a practical need. Without need there is no space for the miraculous.
God’s Proceeding Word
If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread… Hello sentence of Christ metaphors! Jesus is the Proceeding Word in flesh (Gen 1:3, Jn 1:1-2,14, Rev 19:13), he is the Stone (Ps 118:22, Is 8:14, Is 28:16, Dan 2:45, 1 Cor 10:4) and He is the Bread (John 6:35,48,51). Jesus doesn’t need to prove anything to satan, yet satan is seeing if he can get him to step into pride by submitting to a need to prove himself. Jesus’ reply to satan in verse 4 is that man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. He is referring to the ‘living word’— what God is saying right now, for right now. Remember that Jesus is literally the proceeding word of God made flesh but he is showing how connected he is to the Father in saying that the proceeding word doesn’t speak for itself, it must come from the Father’s mouth! Jesus was in total dependence on God and did nothing without Him (John 5:19).
There is an amazing Israelite parallel in this story that Jesus is drawing attention to. He was in the desert for 40 days as the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years and He is demonstrating that He understands what the Israelites missed. Jesus refers to Deuteronomy 8:3 in verse 4- Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. He humbled them to make them hungry…hungry for what? God was trying to make them hungry for His real provision, the next word to come from him, not just bread like they were complaining about and begging for. It’s also interesting to note that the Father didn’t give the people bread on purpose but instead gave them manna, literal translation— “What is it?”, something they had never seen before. He did this to teach them that He could meet their needs and satisfy them in ways they didn’t understand; that all they needed was God’s provision and His proceeding word and they could live without the bread they so desperately relied on as a culture. In fact, if the Israelites would have grasped God’s “now word” through Moses to take the land promised to them they wouldn’t have been stuck in the desert for 40 years in the first place!
Jesus was led into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted and I find it interesting that satan waits until what would have been the 41st day. I never really thought about it before but after 40 nights you would wake up on the 41st day. Jesus is still fasting, yet it could be assumed that this was technically the day to break the fast. If you have ever done a long fast you would know that you are watching the clock to eat at 12am on the final day, but that’s not the case with Jesus. We see him waiting for the release from the Father. Jesus could have easily assumed that this was the day to break the fast anyway so why not have some bread when he was tempted? Would it actually be “wrong”? But no! He still needed a word from the Father that it was time. The enemy will always appeal to the law in a situation- “it’s been 40 days, it’s time to break this fast according to scripture…”. Jesus was demonstrating the way we live by the proceeding word instead of the legal requirement that does no more than the minimum. Not to mention that by taking an order from satan, Jesus would have been submitting himself to the devil’s reasoning and authority. Even when satan suggests something that in appearance seems innocent there is always a catch because he is incapable of bringing life, he can only bring death. It’s not outside of his arsenal to even use truth or innocent events if they serve his ultimate purpose of separating you from dependency on God and His proceeding word!
Our “bread”, our life and our fulfillment of destiny and purpose are directly tied to our connection to God’s proceeding word.
What is he saying right now to you?