When the Tempter Came

Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights (Matt.4:1-2). I don’t know how a human being could accomplish such a feat of self-discipline, but Jesus did it. Perhaps his time alone in the wilderness was needed just before his teaching ministry began, thus he needed time to concentrate and pray. And into the midst of his solitude came the devil himself.

I couldn’t begin to imagine how hungry a man would be after fasting that long. A piece of bread must have seemed as valuable as gold. The devil challenged him to miraculously turn some wilderness rocks into bread, something Jesus could easily do. He wanted Jesus to prove Himself, that he was really the Son of God. Jesus refused.

There are two useful things to learn from these verses. First, the devil knows how to tempt us in our most vulnerable times. He didn’t approach Jesus with bread when he had a full stomach. It’s not always when we feel great about life that temptation presents itself. It’s often when we feel depressed, lonely and confused. He plays for keeps, and we need to beware.

The second lesson is that of trust. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Bread to a hungry man was important, but Jesus was depending on greater things to see him through. He trusted that God would give him bread soon, but he wouldn’t compromise more important matters to get it. Temptation weighs what we trust.

– Tim Johnson