4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
Jesus leaves the Jordan River and follows John’s path into the wilderness for 40 days. Forty days is a time period you see time and again in the Bible.
Back in the story of Noah, it rained for 40 days.
Noah waited another 40 days to open the Ark’s window after it came to rest on solid ground.
Moses spend 40 days up on Mt. Sinai with God twice.
The 12 Hebrew spies spent 40 days searching out the Promised Land before
Jonah warned that God was giving Ninevah 40 days to get their act together or they’d be destroyed.
Lastly, Acts tells us that there were forty days from the Resurrection of the Lord until His Ascension into heaven.
There are entire books on numerology in the Bible and trying to discern what they mean, but suffice to say, 40 days in this case is probably meant as a literal time period and as an allusion to Moses and his time communing alone with God before he returned and fulfilled his ministry of leading the nation of Israel to the Promised Land.
There’s also an idea here with Jesus being led by the Spirit through the Wilderness of Jesus as God’s Son being led through the desert as Israel God’s people were. Recall that the Spirit of God would lead the nation through the wilderness as a column of smoke by day and fire by night.
The idea ties Jesus closely to Moses in shared experiences. Also recall that during the leading through the wilderness, Moses and the people were subjected to numerous situations that tested their faith in God. The peoples’ failures are recorded often through Exodus and Numbers. Moses himself failed in one recorded instance where he deliberately chose to go against the directions of the Spirit of God. (Numbers 20:7-13) As such, Moses was barred from entering the Promised Land.
So the idea isn’t that the Spirit of the Lord led Jesus to Satan and dropped Him off there. The idea is that as Jesus moved through the wilderness led by God, that the devil took notice and tested Him as he had tested Moses and Israel.
The exchange also shows the supremacy of Christ. He went through the same experiences and remained faithful to the Spirit of God through the temptations. It aligns nicely with the Christian writings and doctrine you’ll find in Hebrews about Christ being superior to Moses.
And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
Alright, so Jesus fasted. It is technically possible to fast for 40 days, but definitely not recommended. Jesus likely had or found sources of water. But as He is out meditating or camping out, He experiences a temptation.
The devil here is treated as a literal being with a will, a voice, and intelligence as he is elsewhere.
So at the tail end of His fast, Jesus is experiencing great hunger and in that instance, He experiences His first temptation. The devil asks Him to make bread from the rocks all around Him.
The idea is to stop trusting in God. God has abandoned Him to hunger. God won’t supply Him with the food He needs on time. Jesus is alone and as such, Jesus should take matters into His own hands to fulfill his bodily needs.
Jesus refutes this by quoting from the Old Testament that is another call back to Moses and the nation of Israel. The quote in context:
2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every wordthat proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.
The idea is of God’s continued faithfulness to Israel through their 40 years of wandering. He provided for their needs, he kept their clothes and bodies in tact despite years of harsh weather and nomadic living conditions.
Jesus is calling back to the idea of God even supplying people with bread from heaven to sustain and keep His word to refute the temptation of the devil that God has abandoned Him and He should start looking out for number one.
5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of [b]the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and [c]its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You[d]worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”
The second temptation is to fail the call of God. Here the devil offers Christ the world in exchange for Christ’s worship of him. The idea here is to pass up His ministry, His years of moving among the people bearing their suffering and sickness, the betrayal, torture, and death.
Christ replies by rejecting the very notion of worshipping anyone else but God. Again, this is in direct contrast to the nation of Israel which frequently fell into idolatry in the wilderness, from the golden calf to the gods of the Ammonites and Moabites.
There would be no idolatry for Christ. He would remain faithful to His call even if it meant facing death.
9 And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The basic idea here is again a departure from the Spirit of God’s leading. Instead of focusing on the people and their suffering and building a heavenly kingdom, Jesus would be seeking fame and power and an earthly kingdom as people who saw the miracle would, no doubt, demand Him to lead them.
Jesus simply refuses based on that He will not put God and His word to the test. Just because the bible said God would catch Him doesn’t mean He’s going to do something stupid like jumping off a high building.
Jesus would remain faithful to God’s calling for His life.
13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
Once it was finished, the devil leaves Him for now, seeking an opportune time to return. As soon as he leaves, Matthew tells us that angels appeared to minister to Christ. God is faithful to His Son and provides what He needs. Keeping with the parallels, I wonder if the angels bore Him some manna, but sadly, that’s a question we’ll never know the answer to.
There is the theological question as to whether or not Christ could have sinned and whether or not this would qualify as a real temptation if He could not have sinned. I’ll deal with it tomorrow as I’ve already gone on too long.