Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2For forty day and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’” 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
In this passage we have the most commonly sited reason for the forty days of Lent. The early Christians pointed to Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness during which he fasted and was tempted by the devil as a basis for reflecting on Jesus’ journey to the cross. In Romans and in I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul contrasts the First Adam in the Garden of Eden with Jesus, the Second Adam in the Garden of Gethsemane. Writing in Romans 5 of the temptation of the first Adam, Paul points out that Adam, who in his failure, did something to us by ushering sin into the world bringing sin, condemnation, judgment, and death to the whole human race. Adam-dust from the earthly mortal body.
Paul points out in I Corinthians 15, in the words of the Second Adam, that Jesus did something for us, “not my will but thine be done.” Through his victory over death, Jesus brought us righteousness not sin, forgiveness not condemnation, justification not judgment, restoration and eternal life not death. While the mortal body of the First Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, the imperishable body of the Second Adam was formed from heaven. Jesus’ resisting the temptations by Satan was monumental in impact on all of creation. We now have access to having an immortal body in heaven. Jesus truly did something for us! And that is an understatement!
There is a practical component because of Christus victor. In overcoming temptation, fulfilling his mission, and gaining ultimate victory over death, Jesus made possible the sending of the Holy Spirit to empower us in times of temptation and testing. I’m sure you have noticed a significant recurring phrase Jesus used in the passage above, “the Scriptures say . . .” As you move through this day, be aware that the work of the tempter continues in our world, in your world. The temptations of Jesus’ are the same to us today; appealing to satisfy physical desires, the desires of the eyes, and the chasing after wealth. Jesus answered every temptation by proclaiming what was true, God’s word. I’m reminded of the passage in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian is in Vanity Fair and is asked the question, “What will ye buy?” His response was powerful. “We buy the Truth.” Is there a passage of Scripture you might memorize during this season? A suggestion: II Peter 1:3-11.
“Christian, Do You Struggle?” -translated John Mason Neal, 1862, based on Andrew of Crete (660-732 AD)
Christian, do you struggle on the battleground
‘gainst the powers of darkness closing in around?
Christian, rise, take armor, soldier of the cross,
For the sake of Jesus count your gain but loss.
Christian, do you battle Satan’s power within,
All his striving, luring, tempting you to sin?
Christian, do not tremble, do not be downcast,
Arm yourself for battle, watch and pray and fast.
Christian, do you wrestle those who taunt and claim,
“Why keep fast and vigil? Prayer is said in vain!”
Christian, answer boldly: “While I breathe I pray!”
Peace shall follow battle, night shall end in day.
Music: “Jesus Paid It All” Fernando Ortega
Prayer: Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. –A.W. Tozer from The Pursuit of God, p.31