Matthew 4:5-11

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

 

We are in the process of studying the introduction to the Gospel of Matthew. It extends from Matthew 1:1-4:11 . Today’s text will complete the introduction to Matthew.

 

In this message we will be considering the second and third temptations of Christ.

 

We have already seen that –

 

Temptation is normal and to be expected.

 

Temptation is not sin. Sin occurs whenever we give in to temptation.

 

Temptations are often subtle, but sometimes they are direct.

 

If we would avoid the sin, we should do our best to avoid the temptation.

 

Victory is achieved through a proper application of the Scripture and reliance upon the Holy Spirit.

 

Satan’s temptations often come immediately after some tremendous spiritual event in our lives.

 

As human beings with sin natures, our old natures desire to sin. In our old sin natures, we find sin pleasurable. When we are tempted, we often fall because we want to sin. We do not need temptation from without in order to sin. Our old sin natures are enough to create a problem for us. This will be made abundantly clear during the millennium when Satan will be chained in the bottomless pit and when Christ will have a perfect reign on earth. People will still sin in their rebellion against Christ at the conclusion of the millennium.

 

We have also already seen several things regarding the temptation of Christ.

 

The temptation of Christ was real, whatever position people take on the peccability or impeccability of Christ. Was He able to sin, but didn’t; or was He not able to sin because of His divine nature?

 

There is no question in my mind that Christ was impeccable because He had a divine nature. He was not able to sin.

 

The temptation was brought upon Jesus by the direct will of God the Father. It was not a test on God’s part to see if Jesus would fall; rather, it was a demonstration on God’s part to show that Jesus would not fall.

 

The temptation of Christ is best understood when contrasted with the temptation of Adam. We looked at this last week.

 

Satan’s object in the 3-fold temptation of Christ was to induce Christ to act from Himself, on His own, and thus to act independently from His Father.

 

In the temptation Satan pointed out ways of Jesus’ carrying out His ministry which would have avoided the cross.

 

Satan was defeated by the intelligent use of the Word of God.

We have already noted –

    I.     THE EVENTS LEADING TO THE TEMPTATION - 4:1-2

 

Matthew 4:1-21 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of [i.e. by] the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

 

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Thus, Jesus was in God’s perfect will when He was tempted.

 

Luke’s gospel indicates that Jesus was also tempted throughout this forty-day period.

We have also already noted –

  II.     THE FIRST TEMPTATION: TURN THESE STONES INTO BREAD - 4:3-4

 

Matthew 4:3-43 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

 

In effect, Satan was saying, Do something for Yourself. You’re hungry. You’ve been hungry long enough. You have the power to satisfy Your own appetite. You can do this because You are the Son of God.

 

The implication is that You, Jesus, are a physical being with physical appetites which need to be satisfied. This thinking would lead to the conclusion that man lives by bread alone.

 

The temptation was an attempt to pervert Jesus Christ from perfect obedience to the will of God. He was in the desert in the will of God, and therefore all that He endured while in the desert was part of God’s will for Him. It was God’s will for Jesus to be hungry at this time. For Jesus to satisfy His own desires would have been to abandon the will of God and substitute His own will, deeming that the satisfaction of His appetite was more important than His obedience to the will of God.

As we continue, we note –

 III.     THE SECOND TEMPTATION: CAST THYSELF DOWN - 4:5-7

 

We see –

                  1.   The temptation itself

 

Matthew 4:5-6 – (5) Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (6) And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

 

Then is thereupon.

 

The devil taketh him [i.e. Jesus] up is the devil takes him along.

 

Into the holy city means into Jerusalem.

 

And setteth him is and sets (or places) Him [i.e. places Jesus].

 

On a pinnacle of the temple is on the highest point of the temple.

 

Matthew 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

 

In verse 6 Satan tempts Jesus to throw Himself down, thereby making a dramatic display or entrance. The angels would rescue Him. He misquotes Psalms 91:11-12 to make his case. Satan is good at misquoting or misapplying Scripture.

 

And saith to him [i.e. and Satan says to Jesus].

 

Once again, if thou be the Son of God does not question whether Jesus is the Son of God. Its structure in the Greek text indicates that it is assumed by Satan for sake of discussion to be true. Inasmuch as it is actually true, if is once again understood in the sense of since, because, inasmuch as, or in view of the fact that.

 

Thou be the Son of God means that Satan knows that Jesus is not only God’s Son, but that He also knows that He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. Of course, this means that Jesus is also the promised Messiah, that He is also God.

 

The conclusion of the conditional statement is, Cast thyself down (i.e. throw Yourself down).

 

For introduces Satan’s reason Jesus should throw Himself down.

 

Once again, it is written suggests it has been written, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. It implies that it was written in the past and that it remains written in the present. Satan then misquotes Psalms 91:11-12 . You should follow what Satan says in Matthew 4:6 while I read Psalms 91:11-12 .

 

Psalms 91:11-12 – (11) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways [Oh, Satan does not quote this part of the verse. Satan leaves this phrase out of his quotation. How convenient!]. (12) They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

 

Satan conveniently left out to keep thee in all thy ways, which limits when God’s angels were to keep Christ. It was in doing God’s will, not in presuming on God. For Jesus to cast Himself down from the highest point on the temple was not God’s will.

 

He is God the Father, who is referred to as the LORD in verse 9.

 

He shall give his angels charge concerning thee is He will command (or He will give orders to) His angels concerning You, Jesus.

 

And in their hands they shall bear thee up is and on (with or in) hands they will carry (or take) You (along).

 

The angels will carry Christ along lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone, i.e. in order that you not strike Your foot against a stone.

 

We also see –

                  2.   The implication of the temptation

 

Satan is encouraging Jesus to make a grand and spectacular entrance to the people from off the highest point of the temple. Such a descent by the Messiah into the midst of worshipers would supposedly have led to their immediate acclaim of the One who made such a spectacular descent.

 

Satan’s implication was that Jesus, as a Son, had a right to put His Father to a test. However, for Jesus to put God the Father to a test would be for Him to abandon His dependence on God the Father.

 

Any promise in the Word of God may be claimed when the one claiming the promise is in the will of God. However, if he steps outside the will of God, he cannot expect that God will fulfill what He has promised. For Christ to act in obedience to Satan would remove Him from the protection of this promise made by God.

 

Next, we see –

                  3.   Christ’s answer

 

Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

 

In verse 7 Jesus reminds Satan of Deuteronomy 6:16 .

 

It is written again is again it has been written, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

 

What has been written is, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, a quotation from Deuteronomy 6:16 , which says, Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted (him) in Massah. It suggests, You shall not subject the Lord your God to a test. It would not be God’s will for Jesus or anyone else to expect God to do something which is not God’s will.

 

The reference to Massah is to an event which took place in Exodus 17:1-7 ,

 

Exodus 17:1-7 – (1) And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, [This phrase, “according to the commandment of the LORD,” means that they were right where God wanted them to be and that it was God’s will that they be thirsty.] and pitched [i.e. camped] in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. [God knew in advance that there was no water in this place when He directed them to camp there. This did not surprise Him.] (2) Wherefore the people did chide [i.e. quarreled, contended] with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? [Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you contend with me?] wherefore [i.e. why?] do ye tempt the LORD? (3) And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured [i.e. grumbled, complained] against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? (4) And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. (5) And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. (6) Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (7) And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding [i.e. because of the contention or quarreling] of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

 

God promises to aid those whom He places in trial or danger but not necessarily those who voluntarily place themselves in danger.

 

Christians may tempt the Lord by seeing how far they can go without incurring God’s displeasure and condemnation.

 

Don’t take risks that are not in the will of God and expect God to preserve you from disaster. Don’t put your hand in a fire and complain that God has not kept you from being burned. Don’t expose yourself to temptation and complain that God hasn’t kept you from falling.

 

Jesus should not throw Himself down from the highest point on the temple when it was not God’s will for Him to do so.

Finally, we note –

 IV.     THE THIRD TEMPTATION: ALL THESE KINGDOMS WILL I GIVE THEE IF . . . - 4:8-10

 

We see –

                  1.   The temptation itself

 

Matthew 4:8-9 – (8) Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

 

The devil is Satan.

 

Taketh him up is takes him with (i.e. takes Jesus with) or takes him along.

 

Into an exceeding high mountain is into a very high mountain.

 

And sheweth him is and shows him (i.e. and shows Jesus).

 

What Satan showed Jesus was all the kingdoms of the world, and all the glory (i.e. magnificence or splendor) of them.

 

Matthew 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

 

The condition is if thou wilt fall down and worship me, and the conclusion is all these things will I give thee. Ordinarily, the condition appears before the conclusion; but when the speaker or writer wishes to emphasize the conclusion, he reverses the order and puts the conclusion before the condition as Satan does in this verse.

 

All these things refers to all the kingdoms of the world, and all the glory of them, which Satan mentioned in verse 8.

 

Will I give thee give thee is Will I, Satan give You, Jesus. This amounts to a commitment Satan is making to Jesus. Satan is the god of this world according to Galatians 4:4 . He is also the prince of this world according to John 12:31 . So, all the kingdoms of this world were his to give. Furthermore, it is God’s will that Jesus eventually rule the entire creation. Satan is promising to give them to Jesus at the time of the temptation with the result that Jesus will not have to wait to rule over them. He can have them now rather than waiting on God the Father to give them to Him. He can have them now and avoid going to the cross.

 

By the way, can you trust Satan to keep his word? Not likely. According to the Bible, he is a liar. Why would you believe anything a known liar says?

 

Of course, for Jesus as well as for us, part of God’s will is God’s timing.

 

The condition if thou wilt fall down and worship me is unacceptable to Jesus. The structure of this condition indicates that no assumption is made regarding its truthfulness. Even if Satan were to keep his word, Jesus could not fall down and worship him. This was contrary to God’s will for Jesus. It was also contrary to His divine nature.

 

We also see –

                  2.   The implication of the temptation

 

This was a subtle imitation of what God the Father promised the Son in Psalms 2 . God’s will was to bring the Son to a throne, but it was by way of the cross. The devil implied that Jesus might have what the Father promised without going to the cross. Only one condition was attached: If You will bow and worship me. To receive worship has been Satan’s chief ambition since he fell. Being motivated by pride, he attempted to dethrone God, to usurp God’s authority, and to receive the worship, honor, and glory that belongs to God Himself.

 

In the first two temptations, Jesus Christ recognized God’s absolute authority and submitted to Him. This seems to have led Satan to a final attempt to realize his age-long ambition – to usurp the prerogatives of God and to claim worship that belongs to God. He invited Christ to worship him. Satan’s desire to receive this worship was so great that he claimed to be willing to surrender the entire realm over which he ruled as a usurper in order to gain this end. Even if Satan’s promise to Jesus were genuine, Christ recognized that God alone has the right to receive worship and consequently demands our obedience.

 

Finally, we see –

                  3.   Christ’s answer

 

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

 

Get thee hence, Satan is go away, Satan or be gone, Satan.

 

For it is written is for it has been written. Its tense indicates that its action was completed in the past and that its result has continued on. It has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

 

What has been written is, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve, which actually functions as the subject of is written. It is literally, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve has been written.

 

It is quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13 and Deuteronomy 10:20 .

 

Deuteronomy 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

 

Deuteronomy 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.

 

Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God is a command which must be obeyed.

 

And him only [i.e. the Lord Your God alone] shalt thou serve [i.e. you shall render religious service or you shall carry out your religious duties].

 

Shalt thou serve is another command which must be obeyed.

We close our message by noting –

   V.     THE EVENTS FOLLOWING THE TEMPTATION - 4:11

 

Matthew 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

 

We see that –

                  1.   The devil left Him

 

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

We also see that –

                  2.   Angels came and ministered to Him.

 

Angels were serving Him.

 

Hebrews 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

CONCLUSION:

 

Temptation is normal and is to be expected. How are you going to handle it?

 

Resist the devil by appealing to Scripture, as Jesus did. In order to do this you are going to have to be thoroughly acquainted with the Scripture.

 

Derive comfort from the fact that we have a High Priest who, having Himself been tempted, is able to help us in our temptation.

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 – (14) Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

Note that by not giving heed to the devil, Jesus receives the very blessings which Satan held out to Him. However, it is in a far more glorious sense and with the Father’s favor resting upon Him that He receives the strength to endure physically, He receives the ministry of the angels, and He receives authority over the kingdoms of the world.

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