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 4:3-4 ESV)
Today we begin studying the three temptations Jesus faced in His wilderness experience. Each of these parallels temptations that each of us face nearly every day.
In this first temptation, the tempter (who we already have seen is Satan), tried to convince Jesus to rely on Himself rather than God. The phrase “If you are the Son of God…” is a first-class conditional statement. A first-class condition assumes the condition is true for the sake of argument. Another way of putting it would be “Since you are the Son of God…”. Satan was trying to instill in Jesus a sense of entitlement.
Jesus was God’s son. He existed long before the human race or the universe were created [John 1:1-3, 14]. He lived in heaven in perfect union with the Holy Spirit and God the Father. But He gave up that position to undertake the mission of becoming sin on our behalf [Philippians 2:5-8]. Satan appeals to Jesus’ position as God’s son to entice Him to act based on what He allegedly deserved.
Satan was appealing to more than simply Jesus’ physical hunger. It was an attempt to doubt God’s provision and idea of what is best. Every single one of us faces this same temptation all the time. We think we deserve something like more money or respect. So we take matters into our own hands in a feeble attempt to create the life we believe we are entitled to.
This is exactly what happened to Adam & Eve. Satan convinced them that God was unwilling or unable to give them what they needed. Satan successfully undermined their trust in God. So they provided for themselves, with disastrous results. Humanity has acted no different for the thousands of years since.
Jesus’ response to Satan is a quote from Scripture (it is written), specifically Deuteronomy 8:3. In this Old Testament passage Moses is recounting for Israel how God took care of them while they were in the wilderness for forty years. They never went hungry. Their clothes never wore out. God provided all they needed – they did not have to provide for themselves.
This is what Jesus has in mind. He came to earth to do the Father’s will, not His own [John 4:34, 6:36] He trusted the Father implicitly and did not, therefore, fall for Satan’s tempting rhetoric. If He had the human race would have been doomed.
It’s not too much to say that every problem the world faces exists because we aren’t willing to do things God’s way and on God’s timetable. We think we know what best, but we don’t. All we can create are problems. We cannot create anything beneficial. Only God can do that [James 1:17].
God wants nothing but the best for us and is more than willing to give it to us. The problem is we don’t believe Him.
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