In the Gospel of Matthew, we learned that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). The temptation of Jesus happens after His baptism when He was revealed as the Son of God and anointed by the Spirit. He fasted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Mt 4:2). This is a transition from His private life to public life. He is about to begin His public ministry. It is the devil that tempted Jesus, not the Spirit. To tempt is to entice a person to do what is wrong so that he will stumble and fall. To test is an opportunity to choose what is right and thus come out as better person. Gold is tested by fire. All the great figures in the Bible were tested by God. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He passed the test and was blessed by God sparing Isaac and his descendants became like the stars in the sky and the sands on the shore. God allowed Satan to test Job by taking away his health, wealth and families. He passed the test and his health, wealth and families were restored by God a hundredfold. In the first temptation, the devil asked Jesus to turn the stones into loaves of bread (Mt 4:3). He was hungry and vulnerable after forty days and nights of fasting. The devil knows the right timing to attack. It is the temptation of the flesh enticing Jesus to use His power for His self gratification. Sensual desires like food, drink and sex are good in themselves but when they become the supreme value, they lead us to self destruction.
It is also a test of the divine providence. Jesus does not fulfill His mission by being a breadbasket king. He is the bread of life that sustains us to eternal life. He said, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Our deeper need is satisfied only by the Word of God. We are called to rely on God alone. In the second temptation, the devil brought Jesus to the holy city and made Him stand on the parapet of the temple and told Him to throw Himself down because the angels will save Him (Mt 4:5-6). 5.5 is God. You cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24). Therefore, Jesus is tempted because He is one of us. He entered totally into our human experience. He defeated evil, sin and death forever by being radically obedient to the Father and manifesting the power of God’s love that is more powerful than anything in the world.