This afternoon I was invited to speak at our local Methodist church for a community Lenten service. The hymns and the text both came from Matthew 4:1-11 and dealt with the temptation of Christ in the wilderness by Satan. The text reads like this:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning You’;
‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
My focus was on our enemy and how he strategizes against us. Like any enemy – physical or spiritual – he has an objective to achieve and tactics by which he achieves his objective. His objective is clearly stated in verse nine: he would have us bow down and worship him. But what tactics does he employ to accomplish this objective? His tactics are temptation.
How does Satan, our enemy, employ his tactics? Well, as we see here with Christ, he always tempts us with our weaknesses and when we are most vulnerable. I don’t think it an accident that he comes to Christ on the fortieth day of his fast. Interestingly enough, for the first four to five days of going without food, your body experiences hunger pains. However, after about day five the pains subside and do not return again until about day forty. On day forty our bodies begin experiencing severe hunger pains due to the immanency of starvation. So, when Christ is most vulnerable, Satan tempts Him with bread.
His tactics are no different with us. He waits until the point at which we are weak, vulnerable, and susceptible. Perhaps our weakness is greed; perhaps it is pride. It could be lust, it could be any number of things. Whatever our weaknesses are, it is important that we lay them at the feet of Jesus.
Hebrews tells us that He was tempted in every way just as we are, and yet was without sin. Therefore, we can approach His throne of grace with confidence and find help in our hour of need. Give Him your weaknesses and find your strength in Him with those areas in which you are vulnerable.
Each week this blog will be updated with a word for the week from my current studies.