The Temptations of Christ – Part 1.
In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus goes into wilderness. He is led by the Spirit into the wilderness “to be tempted by the Devil”. I think this first verse of the chapter is extremely important. It indicates that Jesus knew His purpose for entering into this season.
Jesus, knowing He was to be tempted, fasts in the the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Fasting is something that really had been lost on our culture. We have all kinds of “fasts” today that are promoted as weight loss programs or system cleanses. Over the next 3 lesson we will examine how fasting did not weaken Jesus, but rather strengthened Him in each temptation.
Lets look at the first temptation in Matthew 4:1-4
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The tempter most likely perceived that Jesus would be weak at this point. He had not eaten in 40 days! Let’s assume a few things about the tempter. The tempter saw only weakness coming from fasting. The tempter was unable to see the preparation that Jesus had sought in anticipation of these temptations. The temper challenges Jesus’s authority and at the same time makes a plead to his flesh. Jesus counters the tempter with Scripture. The scripture he uses had MASSIVE implications. Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3 where the Lord reminds the Israelites that He alone sustain them for 40 years in the desert. It was his manna, which was UNKNOWN to the Israelites, that provided their sustenance. Jesus, after spending a representation of those 40 years in fasting, quotes this verse to silence the tempter. Jesus reveals His leaning on God’s Word as sustenance for 40 days and shows that through hunger he humbled Himself and allowed the Word of God to be His power!!!
This was the great lesson of the manna as revealed in Deuteronomy 8:3
3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
There are a few things I have taken from this temptation and I hope it will be a challenge to you. First of all, I fail when it comes to fasting. Even more, I fail listening to the Holy Spirit’s lead in knowing when to fast so that when temptation comes, I AM READY. Instead, I fill my belly and lead on my own understanding (pride).
Brothers and Sisters, when the Spirit of God whispers to us to fast, let us to DO IT. Let us do it, knowing that the season we are preparing for will not WEAKEN us but STRENGTHEN us. I don’t believe there is a schedule of things you must do as you fast. I just believe that in fasting, make sure you are finding time to be alone, to submit to praying and to be dedicating reading/studying. Then, when the temptation arises, WE WILL BE STRONG… not weak.