Matthew 4.0 – Jesus’ Wilderness Temptation

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Aug 21, 2016

CHAPTER (4) SYNOPSIS = Jesus’ Wilderness Temptation (1-11; this event is also recorded in Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13); The Beginning of Jesus’ Public Ministry (12-25; portions of this event is found in Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:2-11 and John 1:40-42).

1. Jesus being led into the wilderness to be tempted immediately following His baptism is what we should expect since as Israel’s new representative son and sacrificial scapegoat[1]:

1.1. This is where the Israelites were led to be tested by God after passing (i.e. being baptized) through the Red Sea (Exo 14 w/1Co 10:1-2 w/ Exo 15:22-16:4w/1 – “led up by the Spirit”)

1.2.  This is where the scapegoat was sent to be terrorized by the demonic realm after receiving the sins of the people (Lev 16:10, 21-22[2] w/1 – “to be tempted by the devil”).

“Matthew 4:1 captures and confirms the dual role given to Jesus in His baptism.” – RSJ

2. Jesus’ fasting for “forty days and forty nights” is also an allusion to Israel’s wilderness experience (2 w/Exo 16:35 w/Num 14:26-35)[3].

3. The temptations of the devil were not arbitrary (i.e. random and w/o reason), but a diabolical attempt to bring down the second Adam (Gen 3:1-5 is the context of the devil’s solicitation; see Rom 5:14; 1Co 15:22, 45)[4] and deliberate attack upon the greatest commandment (Deu 6:1-5[5] is the context of Jesus’ response[6]):[7]

3.1. (1-3) = HAPPINESS: You are entitled to have your desires satisfied as the key to happiness (Gen 3:1)//

(4) = Obedience to God must trump all other desires as the only way to be truly happy (Deu 8:3)[8]

3.2. (5-6[9]) = LIFE: You have the right to live the way you want without consequences for your actions (Gen 3:2-4)//

(7) = We are to take responsibility for our decisions and never expect God to bail us out (Deu 6:16; 13[10] = divine sov. does not excuse human resp.; also e.g. Neh 4:9, 14, 20)[11]

3.3. (8-9, 10) = LIBERTY: You are free to be the boss/god of your life/world -i.e. to determine what is right/wrong (Gen 3:5)//(10) = God is the rightful Owner of all and therefore the only One Who sb the boss of our life/world and determining right/wrong. We are to function as His happy slaves (Deu 6:13)[12].

[1] See notes on Mathew 3.

[2] According to Jewish tradition, Azazel was the name of a demon. Israel’s sins were (then) being carried back to the demonic realm. This ritual also served as a reminder of where a person would end if their sins remained on them (Bib. Support for this tradition – see Lev 17:7). Additionally, the phrase translated “remote area” (in v22) referring to the place in the wilderness where the goat was to be sent, literally means “the place of cutting off” or place of excommunication.” In light of these two truths, consider the NT’s understanding of excommunication. It is the act of: 1) placing one’s sin back upon them – i.e. the loss of their former justification, 2) putting them in the place of exile outside the protection of the church, and 3) exposing them to the terrorizing/tempting of the devil as a means to testing/determining their repentance and resolve to turn from sin and truly follow the Lord in faithful obedience (1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:20; 1Jo 5:18-19).

[3] Recapitulation (repeat for the purpose of development) is actually the word used to describe Jesus’ life, ministry and purpose within God’s redemptive plan (Eph 1:10 – “sum up” = literally, recapitulate – also Rom 13:9).

[4]“The Son of God… was incarnate and made man; and then he summed up in himself the long line of the human race, procuring for us a comprehensive salvation, that we might recover in Christ Jesus what in Adam we had lost, namely the state of being in the image and likeness of God… Just as mankind in Adam lost its birthright, so in Christ mankind recovers its original condition.” – Irenaeus (Adversus Haereses).

[5] Jesus later reveals Deuteronomy 6:4-5 to be the greatest commandment or summation of all God’s commands (Mat 22:37). What follows in the remainder of chapter 6, including also chapters 7and 8, represent what such love is to look like. Scholars have suggested that the three verses quoted by Jesus represent its three main principles.

[6] It is worth noting how opposite God’s understanding of love is from popular culture (and Christianity). Where God views it as mandatory and consequential for those who refuse; requiring also that such love be defined exclusively on His terms, popular Christianity attempts to view God’s demand for such love as optional and only genuine where there is no penalty to those who refuse (e.g. “Love Me -on My terms, or remain My enemy and suffer Hell” vs. “I hope you will love Me but I won’t pressure you.”)

[7] Interestingly enough, the three temptations also represent what America’s Declaration of Independence calls the “inalienable rights” given to every human being by their Divine Creator. As such, it sheds light on who specifically, the authors of this historic document were serving when it was constructed.

[8] Example: Sexual fulfillment from my spouse; career fulfillment, etc. (Phi 2:5-8 w/4:11; 1Co 7:17-24 w/Pro 29:18).The difference between these two views of happiness also represents the competing worldviews/philosophies of ministry in the church today (avoidance of pain v. obedience to God).

[9] The devil quotes Psa 91:11-12. In doing so, he becomes the perfect example of what Peter warns against: people who twist the Scripture’s meaning in an attempt to justify lawless living (2Pe 3:15-16). The devil’s ability to quote Scripture should also provide a clear warning to those who naïvely consider someone a sound Bible teacher simply because of such ability. Again, the proof is in their interpretation/application.

[10] For why John was arrested see Luk 3:19-20.

[11] Example: “There is always hope no matter what I do” (Heb 6:4-6//Act 24:25; 2Co 5:9-10; Mat 12:36-37; Pro 19:3).

[12] Example: The Evangelical doctrine of “Christian liberties”; their selective approach to God’s Law and execution of church discipline (Judg 21:25//Luk 17:10).