Time For Action
Matthew 4:1-11 (1) Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (2) And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. (3) And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (4) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (5) Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (6) And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (7) Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (8) Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; (9) And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (10) Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (11) Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Previously (The Way of Escape, 4-30-08), we had observed that our Lord's temptation in the wilderness was immediately after His baptism (c/w MAR 1:11-12). Scripture says nothing about Satan in this manner tempting Christ before that. Sometimes converts labor under the delusion that their coming to Christ in repentance and baptism (per ACT 2:38) will mark the beginning of a trouble-free life of service to God. Few things could be further from the truth. “Trouble-free life of service to God” is oxymoronic: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2TI 3:12). Prior to conversion, we are the strong man's palace where his goods are peace (LUK 11:21): the real warfare begins when Satan sees he is no longer the undisputed master of the soul and mind and so seeks to reclaim his lost territory. But “...greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1JO 4:4). We have a Mighty Ally: “...If God be for us, who can be against us?” (ROM 8:31). It must be noted that when Satan came to tempt Christ, that he was coming to One in whom he (Satan) had nothing (JOH 14:30). Christ was conceived of the Holy Ghost (MAT 1:18-21) and so did not receive Adam's sinful image; He “...knew no sin...” (2CO 5:21), “...did no sin...” (1PE 2:22), was “...without sin” (HEB 4:15), and still “...in him is no sin” (1JO 3:5). And (bless God!), “...unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin...” (HEB 9:28): not even ours! Now, for sinners who come by faith to Christ in penitent baptism, that baptism is a figure of the accomplished judicial washing away of their sins by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1PE 3:21 c/w HEB 1:3; HEB 10:14). It formally begins their identity and walk with Christ as part of His kingdom on earth, dying to former sin and walking thereafter in newness of life (ROM 6:1-6). One can see why Satan would have such an interest in reclaiming lost support in our case but what about Christ Who was never in Satan's camp? The answer lies in the fact that Christ's baptism to “...fulfil all righteousness” (MAT 3:15) marked something else: “...God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power...” (ACT 10:37-38) to begin His public ministry of visibly overcoming the devil's work in men. With the anointing of the fulness of the Spirit (for God did not give Him the Spirit by measure, i.e., partially, JOH 3:34) was also the heavenly announcement that Jesus was God's beloved Son: a most significant wake-up call for Satan. Satan had read the Bible (as is evident by his quote of Scripture in MAT 4:6). He and his minions knew that God had planned to send someone born of a woman who would bruise his head (GEN 3:15). He knew that this threat would come through the tribe of Judah as a king (GEN 49:10). He knew that this king would be a son of David (2SAM 7:12-16) and that he would be made “...higher than the kings of the earth” (PSA 89:19-27) to reign from an eternal throne in heaven (PSA 89:35-37) WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT SATAN HAD BEEN GUNNING FOR FROM THE BEGINNING: “...I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God....I will be like the most High (ISA 14:12-14). This Messiah from David's line represented a real threat! Satan knew that there was a certain timetable for Messiah's appearing that could be measured from the decree of Cyrus (DAN 9:25 c/w EZR 1:1-3) and so when that time was approaching and a multitude of God's angels were rallying to announce a special son of David born in the proper city (MIC 5:2 c/w LUK 2:9-14), Satan mustered his hellish horde: “...the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (REV 12:4). After a foiled attempt to destroy this child by a slaughter of defenseless babies (MAT 2:13-23), and nothing of significance coming of the “carpenter's son” for many years, no further action from Satan against Jesus is noted by the Holy Ghost for years. That business that GOD would be David's son's father (2SAM 7:14) Satan may have just written off as being some secondary or figurative sense of the word “father” instead of the primary sense: “One by whom a child is or has been begotten...” (Oxford English Dictionary). Maybe all of Satan's concerns about this Jesus were unnecessary fretting. Until now. All guessing and doubts about this Jesus were removed when God Himself said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (MAT 3:17). Satan's ears were probably burning at that announcement. For it was indeed the Son of God that the forces of darkness understood to be their Conqueror and Tormenter (MAT 8:29). It was the Son of God Who would be given the heathen (Gentiles) for “...thine inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession...break them with a rod of iron...” (PSA 2:7-9). The implications of this seed of David who was also the Son of God were staggering. What therefore Satan could not destroy by villainy, he now would seek to undermine and destroy by subtlety and he sprang quickly into action. Some old tricks were about to be pulled out and dusted off for use against “another” sinless human.