Started up in my 2022 reading plan last week, but today we return to routine. And this morning I’m hovering over Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Matthew 4:1-4 ESV)
Wear my “Jesus is God” hat, and the temptation of Jesus can seem . . . well, less tempting. No big deal. We’ll just play this out so people know who’s God and who’s not and move on. Diablos, the accuser, does his thing and tries to mess with God. And God, manifest in flesh, does His thing and says, “No way!” Easy. Next.
But chew on the reality that Jesus was a man, fully man, flesh and blood man, and His temptation takes on a different flavor — a flavor of wonder . . . then awe . . . and appreciation . . . and adoration. ‘Cause it was a big deal.
Wonder, first of all, as to why the One who created all things would subject Himself to such an experience. It’s one thing to divest yourself of all your heavenly glory to take on flesh, it’s another thing — especially when you are the Creator and Provider of all things — to starve that flesh.
Forty days and forty nights, that’s how long Jesus fasted. And Matthew writes only that “He was hungry.” Ya’ think? How hungry we talking here? Pretty hungry. Literally “suffering want” hungry. Jesus was “needy” hungry. He needed food. Badly.
So, just how tempting was the tempter when he said, “Hey, why don’t you do a God-thing — if you are God — and turn a few of these stones into bread?” Come on, don’t you think Jesus was legitimately tempted to bite at the suggestion? (Pun intended). If He was fully man starving who possessed fully God power, I’m guessing He was fully tempted — just as we would be.
And isn’t that the point? The Creator entered into His creation in order to fully experience what He required of those He had created.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Trust God for every need, His word can be your sustaining portion. Don’t put God to the test (Mt. 4:7). Worship God alone (Mt. 4:10). The ABC’s of flesh walking by faith. And Jesus subjected Himself fully to the spiritual dynamics the Father had ordained for all His children. And did so under the most extreme of conditions. His temptation by the Enemy was the real thing to the nth degree.
So how come?
For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 2:18 ESV)
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)
Tempted as we are, yet without sin. Suffered as we do, yet faithful to God’s word. Led by the Spirit, as we can be each day, drawing on divine power to subject the cravings of the flesh to the will of the Father.
Able to help those tempted. Able to sympathize with those who are weak. Able to provide mercy and grace to help in time of need. For He is the Source of mercy and grace, and He knows intrinsically what it takes for us to stand fast in time of need.
Yeah, thinking this morning that the temptation of Jesus was a big deal.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
O’ what a grace. To Him be all the glory.