Satan – Part 3

Matthew 4:1-4
1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil [Slanderer].
2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3And the tempter [Tempter] came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple
6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan [“Adversary”]! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

As Christ mirrors the Children of Israel in the desert wanderings (Exodus), we come to the final challenge from Satan. He would see if Christ would bow down to an idol as God’s people had done centuries earlier.
(See 32/) After being out in the wilderness for less than 2 months, God’s people completely fall apart and build a golden calf so they have something to worship; and this with the support of Aaron, one of their leaders! Now as Jesus is poised to enter into His public ministry, which will ultimately lead Him to the cross, will He too bow down to an idol?

“The last temptation differs from the first two in a remarkable way. In the first, Satan assumed that Jesus has power, and asked how He would use it. In the second, the slanderer acknowledged that God promised to exercise power on behalf of Jesus, but he asked Jesus to doubt that promise or misuse that power. In this final and climactic temptation, Satan presumes that the Son will worship and serve someone, so he seeks to turn Jesus aside from wholehearted worship and service of God His Father. Jesus, however, will not turn aside. His life and ministry will be a perfect act of worship and service to God.” (Concordia Commentary Series: Matthew 1:1-11:1. Dr. Jeffery Gibbs. ©2006 CPH. p 196)

After Satan has lost yet a third battle, he leaves Christ alone – for the time being. He will continue to tempt Christ and stand in the way of His work until the very end. But for now, Jesus is left in the hands of ministering angels. To summarize this passage, let me leave you with a final quote from Dr. Gibbs for it is brilliant in its assessment of this passage.

“It is common to hear sermons preached on this text that extols Jesus as the one who shows us how to resist temptation. This hermeneutical move assumes that Matthew presents Jesus as our model and that the method by which Jesus resists Satan’s temptations involves the appropriate use of Scripture to refute the evil one’s lies. Given the dominant Christology in this Matthean context, it is difficult to conclude that the evangelist wants his audience to view Jesus primarily as a moral example. There is a sense in which [this passage] can have that force. However, given Jesus identity as the Son of God in place of the failed, fallen, sinful nation [of Israel], the primary message of Matthew 4:1-11 must be that Jesus is the Victor over Satan on behalf of the nation and ultimately on behalf of all people.(Concordia Commentary Series: Matthew 1:1-11:1. Dr. Jeffery Gibbs. ©2006 CPH. p 197-198)