Here we go again with the study of the first book of the Bible named Matthew. As I have mentioned before, I am attempting to study the book of Matthew using the Inductive Study Method using Observation, Interpretation, and Application. I’ve gone through chapters 1 through 3 in previous posts. Now we are on to the first portion of the 4th chapter.
This chapter records Jesus’ fast and temptation, the angels ministering to Him, Jesus beginning to preach, His calling of Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and healing the sick. Today, I am going to search out verses 1 through 11 which describe Jesus’ fast and temptation.
Now, this is after His baptism at the Jordan River by John. If you’ll remember, straight away, when Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened, the Spirit of God descended on Him, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This signified that it was time to do what He was meant to do. It was time to be obedient to the calling on His life, and as we’ll see in subsequent chapters, He states that He does the “will of the Father”.
So here He is walking in the wilderness by the guiding of the Spirit – the Spirit that descended on Him at the baptism – and after fasting for 40 days and nights, He gets hungry. He is weak, tired, ready for some food, and that’s when the “tempter”, the devil, comes in to tempt Jesus to disobey God and obey someone else. Fun fact: four people are noted to have fasted 40 days in the Bible. They were Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Jesus. Hunger always leaves after a few days of a fast and returns after a long fast of about 40 days or when all toxic poisons have been expelled from the body. The breath at this time becomes as sweet as a baby’s. Any normal healthy person can fast this long without any harm. Starvation only begins after hunger returns in such cases. One MUST use water in long fasts and break the fast gradually.
Also, here is some interesting information that I found about fasting according to Dake: “The disciples asked the Lord why they could not heal a lunatic boy. Jesus said, ‘Because of your unbelief… Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting’ (Matthew 17:14-21). Faith needs prayer for its development and full growth, and prayer needs fasting for the same reason. Fasting has done wonders when used in combination with prayer and faith. This is a biblical doctrine. To fast means to abstain from food – that which caused the fall of man. Fasting humbles the soul before God (Ps.35:13); chastens the soul (Ps. 69:10); and crucifies the appetites and denies them so as to give the entire time to prayer (2 Sam. 12:16-23; Mt. 4:1-11). It manifests earnestness before God to the exclusion of all else (1 Cor. 7:5); shows obedience; gives the digestive system a rest (Mt. 6:16-18; 9:15; Lk. 5:33); demonstrates the mastery of man over appetites; aids in victory over temptation; helps to attain power over demons; develops faith; crucifies unbelief; and aids in prayer (Mt. 4:1-11; 17:14-21). All believers are supposed to fast, but no regulations or set rules are given as to how long or how often. That is determined by individual desire and needs (Mt. 9:14-15; 1 Cor. 7:5; Acts 13:1-5). Men [humankind] should fast when under chastening (2 Sam. 12:16-23); under judgment (1 Kings 21:27); in need (Ezra 8:21); in danger (Esther 4); when worried (Dan. 6:18); in trouble (Acts 27:9, 33); in spiritual conflict (Mt. 4:1-11); and when desperate in prayer (Acts 9).” I found this information helpful for my own devotion, and I wanted add the entire article for you to study for yourself if you so choose. I find it fascinating.
In the first temptation, the devil appeals to Jesus’ physical desire of food by asking Him to change the stones to bread. This would have signified independence of the Father thereby shaking off His “need” for the Father. This would be a direct violation of the order that the Father had ordained in maintaining His creations by. However, Jesus knew that it is only by the Father and of the Father that we have what we have and have not what we have not. Then He combats the devil by quoting the Scriptures from Deuteronomy 8:3, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” I can picture Satan grumbling, but then getting this mischievous smile on his face when he decided to bring up the Scripture in response.
In this second temptation, the tempter appeals to His emotions, Him getting hurt, which is also a physical issue as well. So Satan took Jesus up to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, the very top where the weather vane would be. He told Him to jump off a building because God will dispatch His angels to catch Him (a paraphrase of Ps. 91:11-12). Satan misquoted Scripture, twisting it in an attempt to mislead Jesus. He does this still today. There are so many that purposely twist Scripture to suit their wants and desires. Jesus saw right through it. So He responded with Dt. 6:16, saying, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In the Geneva Bible of 1560, there is a note attached to this verse. It says, “We must not leave such lawful means as God hath appointed to seek others after our own fantasies.” In essence, don’t twist God’s Word for the sake of your own desires.
Then the third and final temptation, Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain, and in a vision, shows Jesus all of the kingdoms with all of their splendor and glory. Satan appeals to His pride. Satan said to Jesus that he would give them to Him if Jesus would worship Satan. That was the final straw with Jesus. He said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” This was quoted from Dt. 6:13. In this portion, I imagine Jesus tired and hungry, knelt down on the ground, sweating. I imagine He clenches His fists and yells out, “Get away from Me! I only worship God!” And then Satan runs away all mad because He couldn’t get Jesus to turn away from the Father.
These three temptations can be summed up as Satan saying to Jesus: “(1) use Your miraculous powers to supply ordinary and personal needs at my command; (2) prove Your Sonship by special demonstration of God’s protection; be reckless and make a sideshow of Your power; and (3) use my power, influence, worldly organizations and kingdoms and become great among men whom You seek to get power over (Dake).” In each one of these temptations, Jesus chose to use Scripture to combat them. He used God’s Word. This teaches me to seek out the Scriptures when I am tempted. When I find myself at a crossroads or when I am fighting something within me, I need to seek what God has to say about it. I need to rely on the Father to protect and direct me according to His good will. And my life is not about influence and power over others; it is about humility and service to the Father. The power that God has given me is for His purposes, not for my elevation or influence.
After the devil left, the angels came and ministered to Jesus. I imagine that they fed Him and cleansed Him. I can see Him laying down and an angel wiping His forehead with a damp towel. All of these examples of “I imagine” are just ideas of what it would be like to be present at this event, and that in turn helps me to remember it by appealing to all senses.
As I wrote before, in this section, I learned how to fight against temptation. By applying what I learned, I can lead a more fulfilling and obedient life serving the Father with the talents that He has given me for His purpose in creation. I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day.
Gotta go fill up my cup…