From Temptation to Triumph

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Today’s Scripture: Matthew 4

As we learned in last week’s LivingItOut, the Gospel of Matthew so far presented a methodical and meticulous case to the Jewish people that their savior had arrived, and that Jesus Christ was indeed the one true Messiah.

Stepping into Matthew Chapter 4, we are presented with four distinct passages that reveal Christ’s promises and power: Satan’s temptation of Jesus, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the recruitment of the first disciples, and the crowds following Jesus as he travels through Galilee healing the sick and afflicted.

Today, we focus on the temptation of Jesus, which provides believers with a powerful demonstration of how Jesus was able to resist temptation by relying on God’s word.

Matthew 4:1-4
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

After being denied by Jesus in this first temptation, the devil tempts Jesus two more times, daring him to jump from the highest temple in Jerusalem (goading him by saying that the angels of God would lift him up) and then promising “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” if Jesus would bow and worship him. In each case, Jesus denied the devil’s temptations, citing scriptural commandments that he was determined to obey. In the end, “…the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus” (Matthew 4:11).

The timing of Satan’s temptation is significant in that it came immediately after Jesus was declared the Son of God. Knowing the threat that Jesus posed to him, the devil sought to tempt Jesus. But to what end? In his Bible commentary, Matthew Henry notes, “That which Satan aimed at, in all his temptations, was, to bring (Jesus) to sin against God, and so to render him forever incapable of being a sacrifice for the sins of others.”

While it may seem unfortunate, or even unfair that Christ would be tested in such a devious manner, these passages from Matthew Chapter 4 illustrate the opportunity within these challenges. As Henry writes, “there is no conquest without a combat,” and in triumphing over Satan’s temptations, Jesus proved his goodness and strength, and preserved the unfathomable gift of his sacrifice for our sins.

Our daily lives are filled with tests and temptations. And while they may not be as dramatic as the epic story of Satan’s temptation of Christ, they are just as real. Temptations do not come only in moments of weakness. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that we can expect to be tested when we are called by God to serve his kingdom, just as Jesus was in the wake of his baptism and God’s declaration that he was his dearly loved Son (Matthew 3:16-17). So, while temptations may be unwelcome, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us in those moments, and when we live in his word, our triumphs will serve to strengthen his kingdom.

Do you ever feel particularly vulnerable to temptation in the moments when you are being called to serve God? Have you ever attributed these temptations to Satan’s desire to separate you from God?

What lessons can you take from the manner in which Jesus responded to Satan’s temptations?

Next Steps:
God has foretold that we will be confronted with tests and temptations even as we walk with him. Consider the source of these challenges (Satan’s desire to separate us from God) and focus on the wisdom and benefit of not facing adversities alone, but with God. Listen to the recent sermon on Jesus vs satan by Calvin Sweeney

Heavenly Father, I am forever grateful for the love you have shown with the gift of your Son, Jesus. As I face life’s inevitable temptations, help me to always keep you present and remember the example — and sacrifice — that Jesus provided in his triumph by walking with you. It is in your holy name I pray. Amen.

This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.

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