The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
"Man shall not live by bread alone"

Scripture:  Matthew 4:1-11

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward 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 proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,'  and  `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Meditation: Do you ever fell compelled or driven to do something radical for God?  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to spend forty days and nights in prayer and fasting in a lonely place.  Why was he compelled to seek solitude for such a lengthy period? Was it simply a test to prepare him for his ministry? Or did Satan want to lure him into a trap? The word tempt in English usually means to entice to sin. The scriptural word here also means test in the sense of proving and purifying someone to see if there are ready for the task at hand. We test pilots to see that they are fit to fly.  Likewise God tests his servants to see if they are fit to be used by him.  God tested Abraham to prove his faith.  The Israelites were sorely tested in Egypt before God delivered them from their enemies. Jesus was no exception to this testing. Satan will surely tempt us and will try his best to get us to choose our will over God's will.  If he can’t make us renounce our faith or sin mortally, he will then try to get us to make choices that will lead us, little by little, away from what God wants for us.

 Jesus was tempted like us and he overcame not by his own human strength but by the grace and strength which his Father gave to him.  He had to renounce his will for the will of his Father.  He succeeded because he wanted to please his Father and he trusted that his Father would give him the strength to overcome the obstacles that stood in the way. Luke says that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1).  When tempted by the devil Jesus did not try fight his adversary on his own human strength.  He relied on the power which the Spirit gave him.  Jesus came to overthrow the evil one who held us captive to sin and fear of death (Hebrews 2:14).  His obedience to his Father’s will and his willingness to embrace the cross reversed the curse of Adam’s disobedience. His victory over sin and death won for us not only pardon for our sins but adoption as sons and daughters of God.

How can we overcome sin and oppression in our personal lives? The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to be our strength, guide and consoler in temptation and testing. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to pour out his Spirit upon us that we may have the strength and courage to resist sin and to reject the lies and deceits of our enemy Satan. God wants us to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12) with the power and strength which comes from the Holy Spirit. Do you rely on the Lord for your strength and help?

"Lord, your word is life and joy for me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may have the strength and courage to embrace your will in all things and to renounce whatever is contrary to it.”


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager