Having been baptized, Jesus’ begins His ministry by fasting in the wilderness where He is tempted by the devil. Like Israel of old came through the Red Sea to be tested in the dessert for 40 years, Jesus comes out of the waters of baptism and is led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days. Will he, like Israel, disobey? Or will He fulfill His messianic task and please the Father, where Israel failed to?
Matthew describes the dramatic conclusion of this 40 day fast. Jesus was hungry; so the enemy comes slyly suggesting that if he is the Son of God , He could satisfy his legitimate hunger by making bread from stones. But for Jesus to do so would be put His personal satisfaction ahead of trusting His Father. Jesus turns to Scripture for His response: “It is written …”
Satan’s craftiness is evidenced by his next temptation. By refusing to turn stones into bread, Jesus was demonstrating trust in His Father; so now the enemy would tempt Jesus to demonstrate that trust by throwing himself down from the temple. This time Satan quotes the Scripture as well, albeit, out of context. Once again Jesus returns to quoting the Scripture in context, “It is written, again …”
Having failed in his first two attempts, Satan drops all pretense, and in what amounts to a bribe, he appeals to human ambition for power, promising Jesus the kingdoms of the world in exchange for a simple bow to him. Jesus’ response also drops all pretense as he demonstrates the authority that He has over Satan, by casting him away, “away from me Satan.” Again He quotes the Scripture: “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”
From this text we can learn what a powerful and crafty enemy we have in the devil. We see that temptation is not strange, for if our Lord could be tempted, how much more will we be? But above all, we learn of the power and authority of our chief weapon against Satan – the Scripture. This ought to goad you to read and meditate upon your Bible. As you hide the Word in your heart and use it in times of temptation, you will find it mightier than Satan. The Bible is described as a “sword of the Spirit;” but it is not a useful sword if it remains on your shelf or in your hand. Open it; read it; pray over it; meditate on it; memorize it! And when your enemy seeks to use his craft against you, you can wield your heavenly sword and snuff out his attempts to get you to fall.