The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Naomi Dinmore. Naomi has recently joined St Mary's after moving to London to pursue her Masters in Science Communication.

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.'"

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.'"

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.'"

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Reflection

We all experience temptations every day - which are hard not to give into. I, for one, know I have been tempted to give up hope in the world getting better this year (pessimistic, I know.) I remember learning in Sunday school that "temptation was bad" and that we must not give into it, but I've found this passage goes a lot deeper. Some commentaries say that the three temptations offered by the devil are tests to prepare Jesus for his life as a teacher. This passage can also show that while food, spectacle, and power are not bad in themselves, when they are done for short term personal gain, they distance you from God, which is exactly what the devil was trying to do. However, what stood out for me were the devil's repeated words: "If you are the son of God..." Just before Jesus was led by the spirit to the wilderness, he was baptized, and the Father had declared Jesus as his son. But, instead of replying to the devil with "I am", or proving he was the son of God, Jesus responded only using scripture. Jesus does not need to prove his identity, because he trusts in his identity given by the Father. In the same way, it is not our responsibility to prove the truth, but act it out through the scripture. Like Jesus, we should trust in God and his Word to lead us. Noticeably, at the end of the passage (v11), after the devil left Jesus, angels came and attended him. This shows God will not leave us alone in the wilderness. Even amongst loneliness, grief, pain, hunger and powerlessness, and temptations to turn to short-term solutions his angels will be there throughout. Our identity is in Jesus, in what the Father sets out for us, in what the Bible teaches. "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it" - 1 Corinthians 10:13 Trust in the Lord and the identity he has given you. He will be there with you in the wilderness, in loneliness, hunger, and hardship.


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