Luke’s parallel account of the Temptation of Jesus informs us that Jesus was tempted during the 40 days in the desert, as well as afterwards (Luke 4:2). The Spirit intended this showdown between Jesus and Satan as testing, or proving. Satan surely intended to sabotage Jesus’ ministry by showing that even the Son of God was flawed. These temptations were very real. Temptation does not equal sin, but it can lead to sin unless we resist (James 1:13-15). James writes, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Peter adds, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Pet. 5:9).
In reply to each temptation, Jesus called on his knowledge of the Scriptures and on his faith in the Father. It is essential for children of God to know what the Bible says about sin and its consequences. It is also imperative that we know God is on the side of those who wish to do right. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can resist. He will also provide an avenue of escape from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). It is apparent that Satan knows humanity well. He knows our weakness and he will prey on it. We do not know how Satan appeared to Jesus. We can be sure that he will not walk up to us and say, “I am the devil and I am here to cause you to sin and lose your soul.” He will come with appeal and with deceit. He is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Let us be ready.
The three great temptations presented to Jesus remind us of John’s warning about the allurement of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Sin just is not worth it. “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).
When Jesus began his ministry of preaching, he echoed the words of John, saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). The beginning of the church was not far in the future. Jesus was laying the groundwork.
Jesus began to call disciples to follow him and to learn from him. Finding some fishermen, he challenged them to become fishers of men (Matt. 4:19). Our great work in the world is to find those who will listen and to teach the Gospel to them (Matt. 28:18-20). The Lord began to heal people of every disease and sickness. The Great Physician was demonstrating his power in a visible way. He is also the healer of souls.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.