Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 4:1-11

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The Temptation of Jesus

The Temptation of Jesus
(Also in Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)
General Idea: Jesus is led out into the desert to be tempted by Satan with the destiny of His creation and humanity at stake. During this time, He fasted and remained true and loyal to who He was and to His mission to come. Satan pulls out all of his efforts and abilities in a futile attempt to convince Jesus to serve him. In so doing, Jesus would receive greater honor and glory faster by having more control. The problem is that Jesus was already fully God, thus had total sovereignty, glory, and control. Satan based his attack on what he thought would be Jesus' greatest weakness, His humanity. However, Satan failed, as Christ, using His humanity and not His divinity as identification and model for us, defeated Satan's attack through Scripture, the Spirit, prayer, and obedience. 
a.   Immediately following His baptism by John (John 1:29) and just before the start of His public ministry, Jesus is hammered! (Matt. 3:13-17; 4:12-17)
1.   The Spirit leads Jesus to this "challenge," after He endorses Him at the baptism, to go to the wilderness of Judea, a desolate place (Luke 3:22).
2.   Jesus fasted, and was tempted for forty days, as were Moses and Elijah (Ex. 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Luke 4:2).
3.   Whenever we receive the Spirit, Satan will come and try to attack us with all he has. He will use everything he can to convince us we have made a mistake and we need to turn to ourselves, or a substitute other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
4.   Satan's chief job is to try to rob us of what God gives, but we have the power to stop him!
b.   This passage is a parallel to the forty years of testing of the nation of Israel in the desert (Num. 14:34; Duet. 4:4; 7; 10; 6:13-16; 8:3).
1. These quotes from Deuteronomy were commands God gave Israel during their 40-year desert experience. Where He tested and prepared them to the nation they would and could become.
2. Here, Jesus is the representative of Israel! In addition, He overcame it in our place as our representative and example!
a. This is a great comfort to us, because He overcame with the power and ability we have, thus, we too can overcome tribulations and temptations, even from Satan himself (Heb. 2:18; 4:14-16; 12:2-3)!
b. Jesus understands us and what we go through, therefore, we can never say, but, but, you do not understand…
c. We can overcome when we yield to His truth, example, strength, and faith!
d. Mark records that he "hung out" with the wild animals (Mark 1:13).
c.   Satan thought he "had" Jesus, and attacked Him at the classic place of weakness in humanity.
1. The first temptation is Satan's appeal to the lust of the flesh, as being without food for forty days; Jesus must have been very hungry!
a. Challenging Jesus' identity to break His obedience and satisfy His fleshly hunger.
b. Jesus responds with Scripture, quoting Deut. 8:3, "Man shall not live by bread alone..."
c. We need to be dependent upon the Lord and the Word to help us fulfill physical needs.  
2. The second temptation Satan appeals to pride (5-7).
a. He again challenges Jesus' identity, and sets Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple, tells Him to throw Yourself down. Jesus responds again with the Word, quoting Psalm 91:11,12, then Deut. 6:16.
b. Satan also uses Scripture, but he abuses it by taking it out of its context and twists it to serve his purpose and not God's. When we misuse Scripture, we are modeling ourselves after Satan! Furthermore, we should never even consider testing God!
3. The third temptation had Satan appealing to the lust of power by taking Jesus to a high mountain and showing Him the kingdoms of the world. Then Satan offered to give them to Him if Jesus would worship him (8-10).
a. Jesus again responds with Scripture, quoting Deut. 6:13, you shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.
b. Jesus does not take the easy path or a shortcut to power over the nations. (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21)
d.   The temptations end, as our Lord was victorious without caving to sin!
1. Angels came and ministered to Jesus. It is not mentioned what they did. However, we can assume they gave Him food.
2. You can call this "temptation, round one," because more confrontations are to come, climaxing with Satan's defeat on the cross (Luke 4:13; Matt. 16:21-23).
e.   We share the same adversary and the same temptations!
1. As Satan and the woes of life tempted Jesus, we are also tempted. (1 Pet. 5:8-9) He faced temptations such as immorality, materialism, and pride (1 John 2:15-16).
2. After Satan's humiliating defeat, he turned his interest towards the faith-struggling disciples, and then the Church (Rev. 12:17).
f.    We have the same ability to overcome as Jesus had!
1. What He did on the cross pulls the synergistic combination of the Holy Spirit working in us and the Word….Well, you need not worry about the devil as much as you need to worry about and act on your character!
2. We have the same tools to overcome Satan and temptations in general. Remember, Satan has been defeated!
a. We even have authority and ability to repel Satan by the blood of the Cross. However, we must never take him lightly, for spiritual warfare and our conflict with him is very real (Eph. 6:12)!
b. Jesus used the Word of God and prayer as both offensive and defensive weapons, and so can we (Mt 26:41; Eph. 6:17).
c. Jesus was focused on God's plan, as we must be with our faith, trust, and then obedience to it in the plan of God (Eph. 6:16; Heb. 10:35-39).
3. The Bible, our faith, and prayer pack a three-prong attack and defense for which Satan does not have a chance!
4. Jesus was taken care of by angels. We will be also, even though we may never be aware of it (Luke 16:22)!
5.      We have hope, and a place in eternity to keep in mind (Rev. 2:10,26-27; 3:21). 
F          For us today, we can learn that we can trust and rely on our Lord. Material things will not satisfy us. Maybe they will for a while, but all we will have is longing for more, never satisfied. True spiritual nourishment comes from God's Word and our spiritual growth through worship, service, and prayer. When we abuse the Bible, we are behaving like Satan! When we use it well, we are modeling Christ (2 Pet. 3:16). Satan does not tempt us just to get us into trouble or to do wrong, but to distract us from God. Satan seeks to get us to lose what God has given or has to offer. In so doing, we are of no use to God, because we have bought the lie. Our outlook has gone from truth to fiction, from betterment for others and ourselves to causing harm! The way to spiritual maturity and the glory of our reward is not in finding shortcuts, but  temperance through learning, experience, and overcoming adversities. It is a long and difficult process (Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:7) 
  1. Have you ever been hammered by Satan and/or temptations? If so, how did you handle them?
2.   What were or are some of the biggest temptations that you have struggled with?
3.   Why do you suppose the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted?
4.   How important is being loyal to your family and friends? What about your loyalty to God?
5.   Satan tried all of his efforts and abilities to convince Jesus to serve him. What might Satan do to get you to serve him?
6.   Satan will attack us, which we should expect! So, do you? Why would some Christians believe they do not have to worry about persecution or hardships?
7.   What can you do to stop Satan's threats and indictments from being appealing to you?
8.   Does the fact that when we receive the Spirit, Satan will come and try to attack all that he can cause fear in you? What can you do to alleviate that fear with faith and assurance?
9.  Read James 1:12-15. How does this verse tie into Matthew and your life?
10. Satan's chief job is to try to rob us from what God gives. You have the power to stop him! What is that power, and how do you or can you use it?
11. Christ has overcome Satan with the power resources and abilities we have available to us. Thus, we too can overcome tribulations and temptations, even from Satan himself. How can this be a comfort to you?
12. Even the devil cannot stop God's plan for us. So, how does this passage affect spiritual warfare?
13. Jesus understands our situations and what we go through. So, have you ever said to Him, but, but, you do not understand…? How does it feel knowing that He does understand?
14. Which of the temptations Jesus faced would have tempted you?
15. How can you be dependent upon the Lord and the Word to help fulfill your physical needs? What is the balance between your work and what He gives?
16. Have you ever considered that when someone misuses Scripture they are modeling Satan?
17. Have you learned that material things will not satisfy you? Maybe they will for a while, but all you will have is longing for more, yet never satisfied. True spiritual nourishment comes from God's Word and our spiritual growth through worship, prayer, and service. How can you make this real in your life?
18. How and/or what can you learn from this passage about how you can trust and rely on our Lord more?
19. Read Eph. 6 and 1 Pet 5:8:  What can you do to develop a response to Satan's attacks?
20. The way to spiritual maturity and the glory of our reward is not from finding shortcuts, but tempered through, learning, experience, and overcoming adversities. It is a long and difficult process (Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:7). How can you make this a reality in your life?
Theology Thought
See our article on The Names of Satan!
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries

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