OVERCOMING THE EVIL ONE
Father God, I pray the psalmist’s prayer before I read Your Word, “Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me” (Psa. 43:3).
Read MATTHEW 4:1–11
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray that we may take the power of the Evil One seriously.
This incident is often described as the ‘temptation’ of Jesus, but this is misleading if it leads us to believe that the main issue was whether or not He might commit sin. What is at stake is Jesus’ commitment to the messianic role He has just accepted in the act of baptism. Ancient Israel was tested in the wilderness and now Jesus finds himself in the same location, confronting the satanic offer of a messiahship reflecting the patterns of power and domination which the kings of the earth deploy. Israel had faced the same kind of choice and had failed to resist the temptation to adopt the practices of their powerful neighbors. Will Jesus remain faithful to His Father’s calling and bring to a broken world the peace and justice which the prophets had promised? In meeting the challenge presented by the devil, Jesus quotes from the Law of God in the Book of Deuteronomy (vs 4,7,10). This makes it clear that the devil’s claim to authority over the nations is false; he has usurped what belongs to God alone. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection will break that demonic power and bring the kingdom of God to the earth. Where Israel failed, Jesus will triumph, but the struggle, of which this incident is merely the beginning, will be fierce, costly, and unrelenting.
Having refused the devil’s offer of ‘the world’ (v 8), Jesus later asks His followers if they understand the terrible cost of striving ‘to gain the whole world’.1 The question echoes down the centuries and challenges our globalized age when the quest for limitless wealth and possessions has become a driving force in modern culture. It results now, as then, in hollowed-out, empty lives and terrible social divisions and injustice.
Take a moment to read Matthew 16:26 and reflect on the relevance of Jesus’ words today.
Lord Jesus, I know every time I get serious in following You, Satan gets serious in tempting me. Infuse me with the Spirits’ enabling power, that I may stand strong in temptation.
1 See Mark 8:36