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Matthew 4

Ivan Kramskoy - Christ in the Wilderness //

Ivan Kramskoy Christ in the Wilderness

vs. 2-6: The Bible tells us that Christ was hungry after fasting for forty days.  In a narrative which does not indulge in much detail, why does Matthew bother telling us this particular detail, a detail which anyone would naturally infer without being told?  I believe Matthew wants us to realize that Christ felt the sting of Satan’s temptation.  Christ wanted bread.  He wanted bread even though eating bread in this context would have been wrong.  Thus, Christ experienced the desire to sin.  He experienced it just as all humans do, but he did not sin because he did not give in to the desire.

From the fact that Christ felt the sting of Satan’s temptation concerning bread, I believe we are justified in believing that he felt the sting of Satan’s subsequent temptations as well.  Along those lines, notice that Satan only tempts a famished Christ one time to eat bread.  He tempts him twice to prove that he is the Son of God.  When Satan says, “If you are the Son of God,” he is taunting Jesus.  Satan knew full well that Jesus was the Son of God.  According to Revelation 12:4, the dragon (Satan) tried to kill him at birth because he knew who the baby was.  In addition to this, God had just announced Jesus as his son at his baptism.  But Satan must have sensed weakness in Christ on this point.  Perhaps Christ was uncertain at that moment, or perhaps he felt the desire to be acknowledged and honored as the Son of God should be.  Whatever the case, Satan’s target seems to have been Christ’s pride.

It is chilling to realize that Satan never gave up on this specific temptation.  He repeats it at the crucifixion through the unwitting mouths of his servants:  “Let him come down now from the cross and we will believe him,” they say. “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:40-42).


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