Sermon: The Testing of God’s Son Matthew 4:1-11

The Testing of God’s Son

Matthew 4:1-11

Truth Taught- When tested, Jesus remained true to His Father

and His mission.

Introduction

By way of introduction, what we have in this passage typically titled the temptation of Christ is really something quite different. We’ve usually been taught that this is Satan’s temptation of our Lord and that is true on a surface level and from Satan’s perspective, however, what is really going on here is much different. What is really going on here is God’s testing. Satan will do everything in his power to tempt Jesus and Jesus will prove undefeatable by the devil or any other opponent. In many ways Jesus is thrown into the deep end of the pool and proves He is a great swimmer. No opponent will ever defeat King Jesus, not even Satan, himself.

Satan goal is to persuade Jesus to act against God’s will.

We will see in this passage that God, not Satan, orchestrates the entire event. God sets this up. This was not the devil’s idea. In this way it resembles the dialogue between God and Satan in Job chapter 1. Have you considered My servant Job…

We will also see that this is not so much a tempting but strictly speaking it’s a testing. Jesus is being tested. We will also see the undercurrent of Israel’s wilderness wandering which was designed by God to test them. During this time of testing, Jesus responds to Satan with Scripture from Deuteronomy 6-8 which is the section where Moses reminds the Israelites that their time in the wilderness was for their growth and a time of testing. They failed the test.

We will see, also this testing shows Jesus as the Second Adam who when tested by Satan does not sin as the first Adam did in his testing, the first Adam failed the test.

Finally, it’s also important to see the testing is focused on Jesus as God’s Son. The first two attempts by Satan focus on this title as the Son of God. Remember we just came from Jesus’ baptism where God spoke from heaven declaring Jesus to be His Son. Would Jesus exploit this relationship with the Father to His own advantage? Would Jesus act in a way that might strain His relationship with the Father? Would He succumb to Satan’s testing and fail His Father?

Now, the real Israel, the true Son of God, the Second Adam in in the wilderness not for forty years but for forty days and not being fed by God but fasting.

Prayer

Matthew 4:1–11 (ESV)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

       “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

       “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

       “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 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, “Be gone, 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 were ministering to him.

  1. Waiting for God’s Provision (4:1-4)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

       “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into this test. Satan was there because God wanted him there. This was the divine test to prove Jesus would not fail like Adam did.

Notice that Jesus, the Second Adam had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. He was extremely weak and very hungry. The scenario goes like this…Adam lived in the Garden of Eden where there was plenty of food. When Satan tested Adam he was not hungry but well fed. Our Lord was on the edge of starvation. Adam failed the test for no good reason except to sin. Jesus has a very good excuse…He is hungry and weak and needs to eat.

If You are actually the Son of God then turn these stones into bread.

Israel, also called, God’s Son was hungry in the wilderness. They had nothing to eat and were very hungry. God supplied their food. He wanted them to be hungry so that they would see clearly that God provided their food. Israel’s hunger in the wilderness was part of their training to trust God to provide food and to realize that life is just as dependent on God’s Word as it is God’s food.

The crowd said the same thing at the cross. “If You’re the Son of God, get off that cross. If You’re the Son of God, what are You doin’ up there?” Remember that? You hear that voice of Satan, don’t ya? “You’re a Christian. You deserve better than this. Get it your way. Don’t wait for God; He hasn’t delivered.” You see, it was a wicked attempt to cause the Last Adam to fail where the first Adam – Adam had failed with a food issue. You see, the first Adam blew it with the apple, and Satan wanted the Last Adam to blow it with the bread. But the temptation was far beyond that. The point of Satan was this: he wanted to make Jesus distrust the Father’s care. He wanted to destroy the Son’s confidence in the Father.

For our Lord this is a test for priority. Would He wait on God to supply His needs or would He take matters into His own hands and make His own food?

Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV)

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Jesus had a desire to taste manna, God’s food and was willing to wait more if He needed to. He also knew that there is something even more important than gratifying your need for food. There’s something more important than putting something into your mouth to eat, it’s what comes from God’s mouth, namely, His Word.

Man lives by God’s provision and by God’s Word. Turning stones into bread was neither.

In time, Jesus will miraculously provide bread for the feeding of the 5000 but now is not the time. Now Jesus wants to taste manna and He waits and we will see, God provides Angel bread as Jesus passes the test.

  1. Never Force God’s Hand (4:5-7)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

       “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

       “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

So Jesus, You’re going with God’s Word are You? You’re quoting Scripture to me, You’re trusting in God and His Word well let’s see how You do with this passage

The devil quotes a Psalm to Jesus and then basically says, now what are You going to do Jesus?
Psalm 91:9–12 (ESV)

   Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

10    no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

11    For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

12    On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.

Satan knows exactly what this text means and he is simply trying his best to trick Jesus into setting up a scenario, which will force God to act. Satan’s saying, in essence, You’re wanting to trust God well here is You chance.

Here’s a double sin. The sin really doesn’t trust God in the right way, but more than that, it is the sin of presuming on God. You’re testing God. In the first temptation, a hazard existed. In the second one, you create the hazard. Here you say, “God, here I g-o-o-o-o; catch me.”

Psalm 19:13 (ESV)

13    Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

       Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.

It is a sin to put God to the test in that way. It’s a sin to create a situation where God’s hand is forced/He’s forced to act.

When we do this, we are acting like God and forcing God into a servants role. He’s there to serve me the sinner says.

So Jesus responds to the devil’s use of Psalm 91 and responds with His own Bible quote…

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV)

16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

The Israelites in the wilderness wanted the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey without obeying God. They didn’t want God they just wanted the stuff. Moses tells them that in that they are testing God. It is a great sin to try and test the Almighty. Never create a situation to test God. He is not indebted to do anything at our bidding.

Now, there is only one example in the Bible where God invites us to test Him.

Malachi 3:10 (ESV)

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Malachi 3:10 stands among the most unique verses in the Bible, for in it God grants His people permission to test Him. Through the prophet, He tells the Israelites to donate a tenth of their incomes (a tithe) to His work at the Temple. Then He issues a remarkable challenge: “And thereby put me to the test … if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10).
The phrase “put me to the test” translates the Hebrew verb bachan, which also can be rendered “examine” or “try.” Most of its uses in the Bible refer to God testing humans. For example, Psalms 11:5 says that “the LORD tests the righteous,” and in Job 23:10, Job says of God, “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Similarly, God told Jeremiah, “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind” (Jeremiah 17:10), and Proverbs 17:3 declares that “the LORD tests hearts.” In other instances, bachan references humans examining ideas or testing one another, as when Joseph tested the truthfulness of his brothers (Genesis 42:15-16).
But the word’s usage in Malachi 3:10 is one of only three instances in the Bible where it refers to man testing God. And in the other two, the testing under consideration is portrayed as sinful and arrogant (Psalms 95:9; Malachi 3:15). Indeed, only here does God invite man to test (bachan) Him legitimately.
By its uniqueness, this test emphasizes God’s seriousness about His people’s giving their resources to advance His kingdom—a principle that holds true in the New Testament as well as the Old. Though it takes faith to let go of hard-earned money, the Lord commands His people to give through their local churches and other worthy ministries. He incentivizes such giving by allowing them to test Him in this wonderful way. Of course, the blessing God returns to generous believers is not always material. Still, no giving Christian will ever lack concrete reminders of God’s favor and friendship.

  1. God’s Will God’s Way

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 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, “Be gone, 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 were ministering to him.

The first test…was Jesus going to trust in His Father’s will or take matter into His own hands?

The second test…was Jesus going to test the Father’s will by presuming on His protection.

The third test…was Jesus going to accept the Father’s will without accepting the Father’s way

Satan is testing Jesus’ allegiance to the Father. He promises Jesus all the nations if He would abandon His Father and worship him.

In order to be completely faithful to God the Father, Jesus would have to endure the cross. Satan was seeking to get Jesus to bypass man’s redemption. He offered Jesus what He would receive in time. By doing things God’s way, Jesus receives all the nations as God’s Son not as Satan’s crony.

At the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He leads His disciples up to a mountain…

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does things God’s way. He receives all that the devil promised and more.

Jesus waited on God and received bread from God. Jesus tasted manna from heaven. angels came and were ministering to him.

Application

What do we learn from this text?

Testings and trials are God ordained for our growth and faithfulness. Jesus was tested and sent the chief demon packing. If any being had power to defeat Jesus it would have been Satan but Satan had no power concerning God’s Son. Jesus passed the test. From then on He completed His mission without any doubts what so ever that He would achieve all God intended.

God tests us at times. Did you notice that Jesus was much more concerned with the Father’s will than He was with anything else. He was hungry, very hungry and He was not interested in eating a meal God had not provided. The Second Adam passed, the first Adam failed. Jesus was offered kingdoms and nations and He refused to do anything that would take away from His love and adoration of the Father.

So, we too will be tested. Will you pass the test and seek God first or will you fail and go after things apart from God?

Hebrews 11:24–26 (ESV)

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

Greater reward and greater wealth is found in Christ than in all the riches of the world.

When tested focus on God and His Kingdom, stay faithful to Him and your calling and in the end you will receive infinitely more than any earthly treasure.

Jesus is wealth untold and full of glory.

 

 

 

 

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

https://biblemesh.com/blog/is-there-ever-a-time-we-are-permitted-to-test-god/

 

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