I was going to title this post Jesus v Satan or some such boxing metaphor and have a picture of one boxer getting creamed by another. But then I realized that I could not identify at all with boxing, preparing for a boxing match or delivering knock-out blows. The Message version titles this section “The Test” and that resonated with me because, while I have never run up and down stairs like Rocky (ok, that’s not true at all, I used to do it all the time, singing the Rocky theme under my breath, but I wasn’t training for a boxing match, it’s just that my office was at the top of a lot of stairs) I have prepared for a lot of tests. And I think it’s important to personalize this passage instead of abstracting it as a battle between Jesus and Satan and claiming I will never have to do anything like that. Sure, my temptations will look different and if I fail it won’t mean the end of all human relationships with God (thank God!), but if I am following Jesus, Satan will surely try to derail me and I will surely be tested. I need to take a few pointers from Jesus and prepare for the test.
- V1 – Jesus was led by the Spirit into isolated solitude to be tempted by the devil. This was all part of the plan, it had to happen. All of a sudden the phrase “Lead us not into temptation” has a little more meaning behind it. He understood how miserable and hard that was.
- V2 – Jesus’ 40 days corresponds with Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. He was faithful where they were not.
- V2 – Jesus wasn’t just fasting, but focusing intently on prayer and preparation for His ministry – in which case His soul would have been amply charged for the tests to come.
◊ Do I intentionally recharge/feast my soul in prayer and God’s Word when I know something tough is coming up?
- V3 – The first temptation wasn’t even a “sin.” But Satan was asking Him to provide for Himself rather than rely on God.
◊ How often am I tempted to rely on myself to meet my needs rather than God? Do I ever let the “need” to provide for myself distract me from what God is asking me to do?
◊ When I’m being tempted, do I know God’s Word well enough to respond from it to the temptation? (V4)
- V4 – Not bread alone – It’s not just our bodies that need nourishing, but our souls must feed on the Word of God.
◊ Do I feed my soul on God’s Word in a healthy way? Is it malnourished? Do I give it a balanced diet by feeding it every word rather than picking and choosing the parts I like?
- V5 – Satan could quote Scripture but he didn’t obey it. There’s a big difference between knowing God’s Word and obeying it.
◊ Do I know the Bible well enough to recognize when people misquote it or take verses out of context?
- V6 – Satan is challenging His identity in God. (“If you are the Son of God”)
◊ How does Satan try to challenge my identity in Christ?
- V6 – Again, Satan asks Him to do something that’s not a “sin” – just display His powers. If He had done it, there would be no benefit to others by it, He would have been just “flexing His muscles.”
◊ How am I tempted to “show off” in a way that doesn’t benefit anyone but myself?
◊ Do I ever use the Spirit of God in me in a self-gratifying way?
◊ How do I put God to the test? Is there ever an appropriate time/way to do this? (See Malachi 3:10 and Judges 6) How do I know the difference of appropriate and inappropriate testing?
- V7 – The verse Jesus quotes refers to a specific time when the Israelites were grumbling and not trusting God. It’s almost more like they’re testing His patience than testing His ability to provide.
- V9 – The last temptation tempts Jesus to skip the process and the pain and cut to the glory at the end.
◊ Do I embrace the process and the pain, realizing it’s the only way to get to the glory at the end or do I ask God to take it away and let me skip it? [It dawned on me that it is the pain of the process of raising my kids that is drawing me, and them, closer to God and, as much as I hate to admit it, we would not rely on God for strength the way we do without the daily struggles and battles.]
- V10 – Jesus draws the line when Satan asks Him to worship him. – I’m not going to even be around this.
◊ Lots of things vie for my worship. Do I tell them to get the heck out of dodge, or do I toy with the idea? (or actually worship them?) What are the things I’m most likely to worship apart from God?
- V10 – You shall worship…Him only shall you serve. – In light of the previous question, I see this is impossible (apart from God.) Thank God for the Gospel of “we don’t have to be perfect because Jesus already was.” God in Heaven, draw my heart to worship only You!
- V11 – Matthew uses the word “behold” like “check it out!” That would have been a great pick-me -up after a long, hard 40 days.
- If Satan had succeeded in even one of the temptations, it would have been all over for us!!!
Wrap up your quiet time by praying through the following questions:
- Based on this passage of Scripture, what can I thank God for?
- What do these verses tell me about God and His character?
- Based on this passage, is there anything I need to confess to God and ask forgiveness for?
- What do these verses remind me to pray for others?
- What do these verses move me to pray for myself?