Matthew 4:1-3a – Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him …
Are you hungry? Tired? Lonely? Frustrated? Unhappy? Full of fear? Then the devil is looking for you. Like a moth to a light, he is coming for you. And he will not be distracted from pursuing you. Because you are a prime target for his sneaky, slimy, and slanderous attacks.
He will wait until you are at your most vulnerable – like Jesus not eating for 40 days. Do you think Jesus didn’t feel hungry? He did. He was ready to eat. And it could have been as He pulled Himself up to standing and was heading back into the city to eat something that Lucifer met Him on the road. Ready to pounce. Ready to tempt. Ready to destroy.
So he “came to Him”. He came into Jesus’ space, ready to attack His emotions, His thoughts, and His confidence. And he was ready to attack from every angle. To see if this man was the genuine article or not. Because surely He is not the one God promised all those years ago.
So the devil comes to Him (literally) and at Him (spiritually). And as they stood face-to-face, he decides to start easy, with the basic human need He currently has unmet.
Matthew 4:3 – If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. If You are the Holy One, then use Your divine power to satisfy Your hunger. You know You are hungry! God rained manna from heaven each day, so surely You could do something easier, like just turning these stones into food. You don’t even have to move – they are here. Turn them into the personal provision You need.
But He didn’t fall for it. Because “… is not life more than food …” (Matthew 6:25).
Hmmm. That was easy, but it didn’t work. Maybe He was insulted at something so easy. So let me challenge Him with something that will allow Him to show off.
Matthew 4:6 – If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ If You are the Holy One, then call upon Your legion of divine soldiers. Since You can easily protect Yourself, You will never be hurt. Show me. Show off the personal protection readily available to You.
But He still didn’t fall for it. Because “I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness…” (1 Chronicles 29:17).
Man, this guy is tough. Maybe He is the real deal. But anyone can be swayed by the allure of power, so let me throw my best stuff at Him.
Matthew 4:9 – All these things [all the kingdoms of the world and their glory] I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Are you sure God isn’t withholding something great from You? You are here on earth, a mere human. You haven’t been swayed by food or showing off, so maybe You have nothing. I can offer You everything humans want – power, glory, and control. Just say I am better than God, and it is all Yours.
But a third time He still didn’t fall for it. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
Three times the devil came at Him personally, offering Him something most people spend their whole lives chasing. And three times He refused, choosing God’s purposes over His personal well-being.
And now he is going to come for YOU. Just as he watched Jesus, waiting for the right opportunity, so too is he watching you. “… Like a roaring lion …” (1 Peter 5:8), waiting for the right opportunity – when you are tired, scared, insecure, vulnerable, alone, shame-filled, or confused. So he can try to tempt (convince) you (far) away from God’s love.
And you may not have the faith, strength, or courage in that moment to speak the Word at him (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) and send him packing (Matthew 4:10). But pray now that when that moment comes you will be prepared and you will fight back. Because the same grace that enabled and empowered Jesus to overcome the incredibly enticing temptations is available to you.
So tap into it and walk boldly in it. And you too will find yourself saying “… Away with you, Satan! …” (Matthew 4:10) and being blessed by God.
Marie Fremin. 7/21/18 and 8/11/18.