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Temptation of Christ II
pastor corner

Dr. Lawrence Butler

The Bridge Church, Pembroke

We have already discussed why Jesus was in the wilderness, being led there by the Spirit. It occurred immediately following His baptism where God the Father announced to the hearers that Christ was His Son.

Listen to the words of the Father as they reverberate through the heavens. “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.

3:17). Jesus then quickly headed into the wilderness as He was led of the Spirit to be confronted by Satan.

Matthew’s description of the time of temptation makes it appear that Jesus was approached by Satan after 40 days of fasting and prayer. No doubt this did happen, but also notice that Mark 1:13 says, “And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.”

It implies that Jesus was tempted during the 40-day period, not just at the end of the fasting. Luke also agrees with Mark’s perspective in his account, “Being forty days tempted of the devil…” (Luke 4:2). The time of testing and trial seems to have encompassed much, if not all, of the forty-day period of fasting. There may have been frightening experiences with wild animals since they are mentioned by Mark. Christ’s faith was greatly tested, just as our faith is at times. As strong as we may appear, extended testing often weakens faith, leading to doubt and fear.

After all of this, weakened by the lack of food, Satan comes to Jesus in an effort to get Him to obey a suggestion to command stones to become bread. Listening and obeying Satan’s suggestion is what brought sin into the Garden of Eden in the first place. The issue then was also over food. Satan says, “If thou be the Son of God,” knowing full well Jesus had just been presented to the world by the Father at baptism as the “beloved Son” (Matt. 3:17). Jesus refuses to engage in a debate over His identity.

If you are the Son of God, Satan says, you don’t have to be hungry, just make bread and eat. Jesus refuses to satisfy the flesh, knowing the lusts of the flesh and their fulfillment lead to destruction (Gal. 5:19-21). Our Lord then uses the Word of God to end the temptation brought about by hunger. He references Deuteronomy 8:3 which includes the expression that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord...” God requires obedience, but then takes care of all the other things of which we have need. We must believe and live by faith in God’s promises and not seek to satisfy the flesh. That is the lesson from today’s presentation.

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