Jesus Tested in the Wilderness – Matthew 4:1-11
Immediately after the Father had singled Jesus out as his “son”, Jesus was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness for forty days of testing. This is often referred to as the “temptation” but the Greek suggests “testing”. Whereas “temptation” bears the nuance of being tempted to sin, “testing” possessed a more positive tone. Jesus was, then and always, sinless. The point of the testing here was his “new” status as “my Son”. Satan hoped to capitalize on any deep-seated insecurity that Jesus might have about his exalted position (thus, the “‘if’ you are the Son of God”). Satan of course, wasted his breath.
Satan’s testing was double-pronged. He tried not only to underscore Jesus’ (non-existent) insecurity but also to encourage him to misuse his power and rights as “Son of God”. So he pushed Jesus in three directions: 1. use your power to meet your physical needs; 2. force God’s hand to stop a suicidal leap from the “pinnacle of the temple” thereby setting yourself up as a force and even “tempting” the Father to send protective angels; 3. avoid the knobby little hill called “Calvary” and short-cut your way to political dominance in the world — a kingdom without a cross.
Jesus met each of these diabolical ideas with scripture, all from Deuteronomy chapters 6-8. Satan even quoted scripture himself (Ps. 91:11,12)! But the battle was won even before it began. Satan slunk away, defeated. Jesus was not ready to preach.