by Alyssa Cheung
In Matthew 4: 1-11, we read of Jesus being tested in the wilderness. After fasting for 40 days and nights, Satan presented 3 temptations to Jesus. In the first temptation, Satan tells Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Here, Jesus’ hunger is being targeted. He responds to the tempter by saying, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In this moment, Jesus clings to the promises of God. He waits on God’s provisions and forgoes a quick fix to His hunger. Throughout the Bible, the wilderness represents a place of preparation and waiting on God. It’s a place to learn to have self-control, patience, and trust in God’s mercy.
In the second temptation, Jesus is taken to the highest point of the temple and is told, “If you are the Son of god, throw yourself down...for angels will catch you.” Jesus responds with, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” He refuses to take advantage of His relationship with God. In the last temptation, Satan promises splendor and glory if Jesus bows down and worships him. In verse 10, Jesus tells Satan, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
Throughout these temptations, Satan begins each test with “IF you are the Son of God…”. In all 3 temptations, Satan is targeting Jesus’ identity. He is trying to get the Son of God to doubt who He is, but we see Jesus practicing self-control and biblical self-talk by clinging to God’s word. He knew He was the Son of God. The question that Satan presented was what kind of Son of God Jesus would be. Jesus knew His calling and at that moment He needed to decide how He would live to that call. Implementation of God’s call can be hard in our lives and it is at these moments where self control matters the most.
In comparing the temptations presented in Genesis and Matthew, we see parallels of how man faced temptation and how Jesus faced temptation. Genesis 3:5-6 tells of how Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. The serpent claimed that eating of the fruit would open the woman’s eyes and make her like God. Where man first failed, Jesus first conquered. So in moments where you feel your own willpower and self-control being tempted, cling to the example of Jesus. He was tempted and overcame those temptations to provide an example for us. He paved the way to allow us to overcome temptation as well. In Matthew 28:20, we are reminded of the promise that Jesus is “...with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus has already gone ahead of His followers, where He has faced the most challenging tests in the most difficult places. There is no test or temptation so great that Jesus has not already overcome. As you walk and remain close to God, there is no temptation so great that He won’t help you overcome.
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