Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus Was Tempted Like Us

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God,tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,     and they will lift you up in their hands,     so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Jesus Was temoted Like Us

Jesus is a man.  Jesus is God.  Being God didn’t make him less human.  This is important.  It means that Jesus becomes our model for how life should have been without the fall.  As a second Adam, Jesus redeems us, but he also models for us how a life is best lived.  When he is tempted by Satan in the desert, the temptation is real.  His flesh wants food, he could wow the crowds and become popular in an instant, he could rule the world without having to endure the cross.  He resists it all.  He models how we can too.

Firstly, being led to the testing grounds by The Holy Spirit means that Jesus knows there is purpose in his being there.  As he and the Holy Spirit commune, he knows that what Satan uses as temptation, God allows as testing.  Any testing allowed by God can be endured.  You have not been tested in ways that the Holy Spirit and you can not handle together.

Secondly, Jesus’ heart, soul, and mind are focused on the life that God has laid out for him.  He sees his whole life as one that needs to be lived in harmony with his calling.  This was true as a carpenter, now that he will be a ‘minister’ it is just as true.

Thirdly, he has committed God’s word, the scriptures, to memory.  Jesus has studied the Bible so that its words are readily available.  He has only learned the Old Testament and he knows it well.  We have two testaments to learn.  This is not a chore.  It makes us strong.

Finally, Jesus knows that temptation comes from lies that we are prone to believe.  From little lies like, “I need chocolate” to ever more destructive lies like, “I need to walk away from my family, it’s too much.”

Jesus was not born knowing everything.  He had emptied himself of that aspect of Godhood.  He did what you and I have to do.  He was obedient to his earthly parents as they modeled a Jewish worldview for him.  He studied torah and set time apart for prayer.  He fasted and focused his energies on the task God had for him.  In the Holy Spirit we can do likewise.  No-one has to sin and fall short – we just choose to.  We can choose to stop.

Questions

  1. What three things did Satan tempt Jesus to do?
  2. What bigger issues do you think these three temptations presented to Jesus?
  3. How did relationship with the Holy Spirit and the Father play a role in the testing of Jesus?
  4. What are things that regularly tempt you?
  5. How can Jesus’ temptation narrative provide a model for you to resist the devil and pursue God more healthily?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus Was Tempted Like Us

  1. Jonna Leshock says:

    1. Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread after Jesus had fasted 40 days and 40 nights – he was hungry! He then tempted Jesus to throw himself from the highest point of the temple, and to rely on the angels to catch him. Finally, he showed Jesus all the lands from a mountain top and told him if he would only bow down and worship Satan, he would be given all the lands he could see.
    2. These temptations tested Jesus’ ability to rely on God – for food and sustenance and for providing Jesus with all he needs to live on earth. An earthly desire for “instant gratification/satisfaction” was tested when he was probably starving. As humans, we sometimes want to test God’s word or test God to see if he means what he says, and this was offered to Jesus as a temptation to prove God’s word. And the human desire for more – for earthly treasure, power and wealth were all used as a temptation for Jesus to worship someone other than the one true God.
    3. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tested. Even though Satan was allowed to tempt Jesus, God was still in control of the situation. Jesus had to rely on the Holy Spirit in order to withstand the temptation and ultimately grow closer to God his Father through the testing that was given to him.
    4. I am regularly tempted by power, control, financial gain, food, my own selfishness and pride, shortcuts…to name a few.
    5. Jesus’ story provides a perfect model of how I can battle my temptations each day. I need to remember that I am not alone and thankfully not left to my own inadequate powers when facing temptations. If I learn to listen to and rely on the holy spirit that lives within me and to focus my attention on God the way Jesus did, I can get through ANY temptation. It is very hard to think this way “in the moment” but the more I arm myself with the word of god, the stronger I will be.

  2. Carrie says:

    I realize that we are always tempted by Satan and our sin. It is sometimes difficult to notice/see in the moment that we are sinning. What would it be like if someone spoke to us and asked us to sin? Would it be easier to resist if we knew it was sin or would it be harder because it came from someone? Not sure if this all made sense but just pondering.

    • Kim says:

      It make sense Carrie! I think it is hard to resist sin whatever way it appears to us, hidden or hitting us right in he face. Think about negative peer pressure growing up, it was so hard as a teenager to sometimes stay strong about what you believed in.

  3. Kelli says:

    First of all, you’re meddling with the chocolate statement, Love of My Life!

    1. Satan tempted him to make bread from stone, to prove his deity by calling the angels, and to take the kingdoms of the world by worshipping Satan.

    2. His basic human need for food. His trust in His Father. The desire to prove himself to be God. The desire for power and control. As a side note, this makes me think of certain models of human need like Maslow’s heirarchy, which places the physiological needs at the bottom. Then the need for safety. Then the needs for belonging and recognition. It seems that Satan was working his way up the list. 🙂

    3. The Holy Spirit led Jesus there. Perhaps it is also the Holy Spirit who brings to mind the Scripture? And provided the strength to overcome.

    4. I am regularly tempted by pride, which leads to perfectionism and anxiety and self-absorbtion and the desire to control.

    5. I think Jonna said it well. That is the goal. To be so full of God’s Word, that it is on our mind when we need it most. I also know that when I’m drawing closer to God, I more easily see sin for what it is. It loses its appeal.

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