The Pivotal 40-Day Sojourn In The Wilderness
Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Thirty years had swept by! Jesus, hailed by John the forerunner was greatly anticipated! The baptism of Jesus was surely a major turning point! What would Jesus do next? Instead of embarking on His public ministry, Matthew recorded a significant event.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into
the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Matthew and Luke made the 40-day sojourn in the wilderness the pivotal starting point in the ministry of Jesus. Let us ponder why they thought so.
1. Jesus must be tested in the toughest of circumstances
Just as Adam, the first man was tested by Satan, so Jesus the second Adam, must be tested by the Devil. In comparison, Adam had an easier test. Jesus was stretched to the utmost limit. He had to live in the wilderness. He had to go without basic amenities. He did not even have food and water for 40 days and nights! These were tough conditions indeed. Jesus must be able to defeat Satan, in any terrain, and in the worst of circumstances, or He would not be able to be the Messiah-Deliverer that the Scriptures hailed Him to be.
2. Jesus must yield to the Leading of the Holy Spirit
When Jesus became a man, in every sense of the word, He needed to depend upon the Spirit of God.
a. He would need His fellowship.
b. He would need His power.
c. He would need His leading.
Would Jesus be able to yield Himself to the leading of the Spirit of God fully? The Spirit of God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil! Could Jesus trust the perfect leading of the Spirit of God? He could and He did!
3. Jesus must emerge triumphant in His battle with the Devil
The battle lines were clearly drawn. Satan could use any means to cause Jesus to sin against God. He would try his utmost to cause Jesus to falter and fail in His life and ministry.
On the other hand, Jesus would have to defeat the Devil only through His knowledge of God and His faith. He would have no one else to depend upon in this great battle.
Everything depended on the outcome of this historic spiritual battle! The synoptists Matthew and Luke must have seen the theological significance of this event and thus devoted time to describe Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
THE CUNNING OF THE DEVIL
Satan bided his time. He knew better than to try to attack Jesus when He was fasting and praying. The devotion that Jesus had must have been very strong. Imagine going without food and drink for that length of time!
When Jesus ended His fast forty days later, naturally He would be hungry. Satan made his first move against Jesus at that point of time.
“And when He had fasted forty days and forty
nights, afterward He was hungry.”
When a man has fasted for forty days and forty nights, the hunger that he feels would be greatly accentuated! Satan felt that if ever there were a point of weakness in Jesus, surely this would be it.
THE FIRST TEMPTATION
Subtly Satan drew alongside and made what would appear as a very harmless suggestion. In fact, his suggestion even appeared to be good common sense.
“Now when the tempter came to Him, he said,
‘If you are the Son of God, command that these
stones become bread.’ ”
How did Satan hope to overcome Jesus by offering this temptation? His temptation would be deadly to a person of lesser mettle.
Satan was not questioning the Sonship of Jesus. Rather, he was suggesting that Jesus was not taking advantage of His being the Son of God. Surely, being the Son of God has its privileges? Why would He not use the power that God had entrusted to Him to satisfy the hunger pangs felt?
A POWERFUL ANSWER
Without hesitation, Jesus replied with these words.
“It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth
Satan must have been stunned by this answer! Adam probably was not even hungry and yet he ate of the fruit given to him by Eve! Here was a man who must be starving, and He refused food!
Jesus did not live by mere human survival instincts, where one justifies doing anything to survive. Life, as far as Jesus was concerned, must be lived with reference to God’s Word, and then compliance to that Word revealed!