“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ ” Matthew 4:1–3
As a teenager I remember many times doing things as a result of peer pressure, or out of a desire to be with people that I thought were cool, in spite of the fact that there was an alarm sounding in my head telling me that I’d be better off holding my distance. In many cases there wasn’t anything wrong with the initial plans the group was making and this fact served to convince me that I was justified in ignoring that “still small voice.” It would only be later that I would be confronted with temptation I wasn’t ready to face and often I’d fall victim to it. I’ve learned that that voice of warning is the Holy Spirit trying to guide and protect me.
Think about the times you were in a place where you were subjected to temptation. Why were you there? Was it because of a choice you made in spite of the Holy Spirit’s leading? Or were you there because the Holy Spirit led you there?
In this world we can’t completely avoid temptation. Sources of temptation are everywhere and one of those places is located within our own hearts. However, there are temptations we’re ready to face and there are temptations we’re not ready for. On our own we’re generally unable to anticipate when and where overwhelming sources of temptation will come but the Holy Spirit can and he will guide us if we’ll listen to him.
Our focus text tells us that Jesus had been led into the wilderness for an extended period of fasting and prayer prior to the starting of his years of ministry. Now after nearly six weeks of not eating Jesus is very hungry, his body is demanding food, and the tempter decides that now is the time to attack.
Satan’s primary goal is to lead Jesus to doubt the Father. This same temptation was used effectively against Adam and Eve, and once again Satan uses appetite to camouflage his real objective, “If you are the Son of God turn these rocks into bread.”
Where Eve alone was unprepared to face the tempter Jesus, lead by the Spirit, was able to see the danger and meet it victoriously. Satan was trying to lead Jesus to doubt the last words his Father had said to him right after his baptism, “This is my beloved Son.”
No miraculous sign could be greater proof than the word of God, and Jesus declared this to Satan with the words, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
Jesus was ready to meet the temptation. God’s word had been hidden in his heart. His heart had been tuned to remember and trust his Father’s word. And the Holy Spirit had been faithful to lead him only to a place of difficulty he was prepared for.
All this is available to us as well if we will avail ourselves of the gifts God has given.