The text for this lesson is Matthew 4:1–11
- Jesus resisted the temptations of the devil and kept God’s Law for us because we cannot. Jesus strengthens us through His Word to resist temptation and assures us that He has won the victory over sin, death, and the devil for us.
- Law: Adam and Eve sinned by doubting God’s Word and His goodness, and I do, too, when I don’t trust God but give in to the devil’s temptations.
- Gospel: Jesus, the new Adam, resisted temptations all the way to the cross, where He conquered Satan and sin forever for me. In Him, God forgives my sin, provides all that I need, and gives me strength to resist and overcome temptations.
- The Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This was a necessary second step for God in the flesh. He must first be baptized; then, He must face the devil head-to-head and resist temptation. Adam could not resist. He believed Satan’s lies that God was holding something back from him. So Jesus, the second Adam, must face the tempter. Satan tempted the first Adam to be like God. He tempted the second Adam to go off and be God and leave the rebellious world to him.
After forty days of fasting, Jesus was hungry. It is at this time that the devil comes to tempt Him. First, he tempts Jesus with food: “If you are the Son of God,” just do for Yourself what You did for the children of Israel in the desert. Make miraculous bread. Be God. But Jesus will not just be God. He took upon flesh to be true man too, so He could act in our place under the Law and fulfill it for us. He will not live by bread alone, but will rely upon God’s Word for His sustenance.
So the devil takes Him to the Holy City, Jerusalem, to the pinnacle of the temple, and tempts Him with regard to God’s Word. “All right, Jesus, if You want the Word of God, listen to its contradictions and cast Yourself off the temple, trusting what the Word of God says: ‘on their hands they will bear You up.’ ” But Jesus will not allow seeming contradictions to obscure God’s Word. Jesus answers, “You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test.” Satan knows Scripture, but does not have faith. He chooses to quote from Psalm 91, which is actually written against him. In this messianic psalm, David prophetically wrote that the serpent would be trampled underfoot (91:13).
In the third temptation, the devil seeks to give Jesus what He’s after without working for it. “I will give You” the kingdoms of the world. Just “fall down and worship me.” It’s as if he says, “Don’t go to the cross, Jesus. Don’t let Your heel be bruised for this rebellious people. Leave them to me.” The devil wants Jesus to attend to the business of being God and to leave the world to him. But Jesus did not come to live at ease in this world. He came to win salvation for mankind by suffering and dying. The writer of the Book of Hebrews records Jesus’ mission: “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:18).
And so we pray in the Sixth Petition that God would give us strength to resist and overcome the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh, which would try to mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great sins. As God’s children, we have the Holy Spirit, who works through God’s Word to help us do this. But we still fail. Jesus, however, has won the victory over sin, death, and the devil for us. He resisted temptation so that He could be our Redeemer. He endured temptations, hardships, suffering, and even death because we are precious to Him. He is able to relate to us in all ways. He has suffered greater things than we have in this world, and He did it willingly. He took the punishments we deserved so that we could have the life that only He could give. He is true God and true man for us.