Matthew 4 vs 1 - 11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written," 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and" 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
What is Lent all about? I would argue that Lent is ultimately about sacrifice, the giving up something which isn’t easy. Many people during this period of the church calendar try to give up bad habits, maybe it is overindulgence of social media or junk food. But these “sacrifices” pale in comparison to the 40 days of the first ever Lent in history. The 40 days in which our Lord gave up all his comfort and made himself subject to the temptations of Satan. Christ began his ministry by giving up his reliance on food and instead relying entirely on the spirit, no easy task for human being just like us. Now, fasting in the desert, he is sharply confronted with the reality and vulnerability of his human weakness. The devil, watching closely, sees his opportunity, and strikes. His aim, by any means at all, is to turn Jesus aside from his chosen pathway of humility and obedience; of suffering, death and resurrection. Christ is faced with a choice, just like we are, do we give in to our human weakness and do what is easy and satisfies our own desires? Or instead, do we put to death our temptations and remain obedient? Do we give up those sins that are difficult to let go of? Do we offer up our lives as a living sacrifice just as Christ did? Speaking for myself I know I too often fail in this regard, I do what is easy rather than what is right. Thankfully Christ succeeds where we fail, he doesn’t give into temptation but is perfectly obedient.
Satan firstly attacks Christ’s physical weakness, his severe hunger. Satan is no fool, he knows where Jesus is weak and seeks to exploit it. Satan too often attempts to take advantage of our circumstances and wants to tempt us. He takes our need and tempts us to meet the need in wrong ways. We may feel justified by; our need to give in to temptation, but this always leads to disaster. How can we resist such a cunning foe? How did Christ resist such temptation to give in? He answers with scripture, God is his ultimate source of satisfaction. When one is led by the spirit and wields the word of God, he can resist Satan’s temptations. Satan then attempts to tempt Jesus for a second time, he wants Jesus to prove His identity by throwing Himself down from the pinnacle the Temple. He is trying to incite Jesus to prove his sonship. However, Christ once again responds from scripture, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”. Christ reminds us that we shouldn’t fall into Satan’s tramp and become presumptuous of what we think God must do for us. God owes us nothing, we owe him everything. In the final temptation Satan offers Christ power over the whole world, something which Christ is entitled to as King. However, Satan demands that Christ fall before him in worship, an act of idolatry. Christ rejects any idea semblance of immediate gratification and again remains faithful to God, he alone is to be worshipped. Satan tries his best to tempt Jesus to giving in, but he does not concede his obedience to God in exchange for comfort. He knows who he is and what his purpose is, and therefore he trusts in God completely no matter the personal the cost.
The temptations of Christ are just one insight to self-sacrificial ministry of Christ. The work of the man who did what we couldn’t, keep the promise of Lent to not to given into the temptation. In every case Jesus turned Satan back by quoting Scripture. Let us follow His example. I like the way the story ends. In verse 11, we read: that the devil left Him angels began to minister to Him. As Mark (1:13) writes the story, the angels “were ministering to Him” throughout the temptation. These are not contradictory stories. The angels ministered to Christ throughout the forty days and in a special way at the end of the temptations. All this gives us great assurance. Our God will never leave us alone. In the middle of all the trials and tests He is with us. He may seem to be unseen, but He is there. His angels will minister to us. Let us put our trust in God today!