Jesus grew up in a town. His stepdad was a carpenter, and carpenters worked where the people were, near the street where it’d be easier to unload and load heavy pieces of wood. Fasting in the quiet of the wilderness for an extended period of time – as Jesus did at the start of His ministry – would’ve been a very different experience for a city dweller. One can only imagine what Jesus was experiencing. He had been led into the wilderness of the desert by the Spirit of God. He had been fasting for forty days and forty nights. On the forty-first day, in what might be seen as the Scripture’s greatest understatement, Matthew records, “He was hungry.”
The Spirit might have well said, “He was lonely,” or, “He was tired.” But feelings of loneliness or wearisomeness can be displaced by distraction. True hunger cannot – it hangs with you through every minute of every day, constantly reminding you of the peril of your condition. Of course, we who read Matthew’s Gospel can understand that His trial is almost done, but in the moment, Jesus would’ve been solely aware of His hunger.
It is at this vulnerable point that the tempter comes to Him. Matthew records, “The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
The temptation is to satisfy oneself through personal application of both spiritual authority (as God’s son) and spiritual gift (the gift of signs & wonders). As per his historic tried and true method, the devil’s temptation comes across as something that can be done (just as Adam and Eve were able to pick and eat from the forbidden tree), something one would naturally want to do (given our innate appetite) and something that seems reasonable given the circumstance (God the Father not obviously providing what we want). It is a fiendish combination of timing and circumstance, orchestrated to allow the maximum level of temptation (from the devil’s perspective) and the deepest of trial (from God’s sovereign viewpoint). Humanly speaking, it would be all but impossible to overcome. Except that Jesus has been using the very same circumstance to prepare Himself for this very moment.
From satan’s viewpoint, Jesus was growing weaker and weaker – and physically He was. But in His mind, Jesus was meditating on the purpose and meaning of Scripture. So in His weakest physical moment so far, Jesus is still spiritually sound. Sound enough to consider what satan is getting at and to remember something that God wrote down a long time ago that directly speaks to what the enemy is proposing. “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
To that, there is no counter-argument – satan’s tactic has been utterly rebuffed. The correct application of the timeless Word of God always has that effect.
The devil will need to try something else. Fortunately, Jesus’ preparation in fasting and prayer will prove more than sufficient.
No spiritual battle can be fought and won without our greatest weapon—the Word of God. […] It is a defensive as well as offensive weapon. As prayer warriors, we need both.Stormie Omartian
We are always needing to prepare for the next spiritual battle we fight. What was the last verse of Scripture you memorized? How many did you learn last year?