Matthew 4: 1-4
Matthew 4: 1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempteda by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’b ”
Analysis of Matthew 4: 1-4
1- The Temptation
Jesus made a commitment to fast. We were not told how long did He intend to do this for. It could be that He made a commitment to fast for more than forty days or until He was hungry. It is evident that when He made a commitment and fasted, He was fasting in the Spirit. This is the reason why He didn’t feel hungry before the fortieth day. We are all commanded to fast and do the will of God in the Spirit not in the flesh, so that we don’t struggle, for with the struggle comes temptation.
Matthew 9: 14Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Jesus of course knew temptation was coming and thus He might have considered to stop his fast. However, due to the fact that He was still in the desert, and that there was no edible food around him, Jesus had no choice but to persevere and to press on.
I see an analogy between the story of his fast and that of his crucifixion. Jesus made a commitment to obey the will of God and give himself as a living sacrifice. He was led by the spirit to the cross. Yet, on the cross, Jesus felt forsaken and abandoned by the Holy Spirit. And so, He had to press on and persevere, even on the cross and into Hell.
In the desert though, I believe temptation came dressed into a robe of righteousness. Jesus knew He can only carry God’s work while in the Spirit. Becoming hungry was not going to persuade him to break his vow, though. Jesus probably knew at that point that temptation was on its way, but He had to persevere.
It’s true that we’re not called to do the things of God based on the flesh, as this could bring about temptation, but fulfilling our vows until the end is crucial. When we’re under temptation, we face a dilemma; should we stop because we don’t feel the Spirit of God in us anymore, or should we persevere and fulfil our vows?
In Matthew 4, Jesus teaches us that temptation is unavoidable. The lesson here is to keep persevering in the midst of trials.
Often men and women of God are faced by this spiritual dilemma during their missionary journey. When Satan wages a war against them, it is not only through the physical and emotional pain encountered, but it’s also through confusion and uncertainty; are you truly doing the will of God? Where is the evidence of this? If you were, would God have forsaken you? What if you just got it wrong? What if it wasn’t his will but yours? How about your competitive self? Are you not striving to earn your place in Heaven? You have forgotten what Grace meant, and look at you, you are now paying for your double mindedness…
During this type of temptation, giving up may seem a very plausible and even godly decision, especially when we start to think that this was not God’s will from the first place. Satan, often, makes sure we forget the first reason behind such a commitment; which is the Holy Spirit’s first call.
In this chapter, Jesus the man has demonstrated that He was able to overcome temptation armed with the Word of God alone.