Mat 4:1 What three-fold event immediately preceded Jesus’ temptation? See Mat 3:16-17; cf. Mar 1:9-13. Where was Jesus led to be tempted by the devil? Who led Him? What does it mean that Jesus was tempted? Note: the Greek word used means to be tested or tried, assayed; see Mat 16:1, 19:3, 22:18,35, Acts 15:10, 16:7, etc…. What is the significance that immediately following the inauguration of His ministry the Spirit impelled (Mar 1:12) Jesus to go (KJV, NET = drove; lit. “cast out”) into the wilderness where He would be tested? Does God likewise allow us to be tested, especially following those inaugural events in our lives at which we commit ourselves to some work of service in His name? Why is that? See 1Pe 1:6-7, 4:12, Jam 1:2-4,12, Pro 17:3, 1Co 10:13, 2Co 13:5. How does such an understanding encourage us to persevere in such times of testing?
Mat 4:2-4 What was the nature of the first temptation that Jesus faced? What range of sins that entice our human nature does this temptation encompass? Cf. 1Jo 2:16. Consider that as the Son of God Jesus could have commanded the stones to become bread so as to satisfy His hunger, and that He would later miraculously multiply a few loaves and fishes to feed a hungry multitude; why then would it have been wrong for Him to satisfy His own hunger in the present situation? See Heb 4:15. What does this teach us about the common perception that sin is a clear-cut violation of some law that has been set in stone? Cf. Rom 14:23, Jam 4:17. By what means did Jesus overcome the temptation? What does the passage Jesus quotes teach us about the nature of that life which is life indeed? Is it purely material and sustained only by physical elements as the devil’s temptation seemed to allude? In what ways have so many in our present day succumbed to this same temptation?
Mat 4:5-7 What was the nature of the next temptation that Jesus faced, and what range of sins that entice our human nature does it encompass? See again 1Jo 2:16. What did the devil want Jesus to prove by casting Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple? See Mat 4:6, cf. Mat 4:3, 3:17. How would such a display of power have been in accord with the popular expectations of the people for how the Messiah would manifest Himself? Why was it not in accord with God’s purpose and plan? Cf. Joh 6:11-15, Mat 16:16-17,20-21, 20:28. Consider Jesus’ mission to reveal not only Himself as the Messiah, but the Messiah as the Son of God having a nature, character and purpose quite contrary to fallen man’s expectations; why would it have been tempting to the human nature of Jesus to manifest Himself through displays of power rather than through displays of love? With what additional force did the devil seek to entice Jesus with this temptation? See Mat 4:6. Might he use similar tactics to entice people today? Why should it concern us greatly that the devil quotes Scripture? Will just having a regard for the Scriptures or knowing some Bible verses protect us from Satan’s temptations? Or must we also know the context, spirit and intent of God’s word? How did Jesus overcome this temptation? See Mat 4:7. How does His response apply to those who believe they must demonstrate their faith by handling serpents (Mar 16:18)?
Mat 4:8-11 What was the nature of this temptation that Jesus faced, and what range of sins that entice our human nature does it encompass? See again 1Jo 2:16. Is it in the devil’s power to offer the world and the things in it to those who will serve him? See Luk 4:6, Joh 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 2Co 4:4, Eph 2:2, 6:12, 1Jo 5:19. In faith Jesus knew that in the fullness of time He would ultimately have that which the devil was offering Him at that time; what then was the temptation? In what ways are we also tempted to want all the fullness of God’s promises immediately and to sin in order to obtain them? How did Jesus overcome this temptation? See Mat 4:10. From which book of the Bible did Jesus quote all three times in overcoming Satan’s temptations? Is it significant that modern scholarship has especially sought to destroy this book by the documentary hypothesis? What was the result of Jesus successfully overcoming the temptations He faced? See Mat 4:11. Do angels minister only to Jesus, or to all who will inherit salvation? See Heb 1:14. How did His success in overcoming temptation demonstrate His worthiness to be King? What does this study teach us about the nature of temptation? Does the enticement to sin ever plainly present itself as a violation of God’s righteous law, or come with a warning of the future consequences for yielding to the temptation?
1. See the art of the tempter. His temptations are adapted to times and circumstances. They are plausible. What could have been more plausible than his suggestions to Christ? They were applicable to his circumstances. They had the appearance of much piety. They were backed by passages of Scripture misapplied, but still most artfully presented. Satan never comes boldly and tempts people to sin, telling them that they are committing sin. Such a mode would defeat his design. It would put people on their guard. He commences, therefore, artfully and plausibly, and the real purpose does not appear until he has prepared the mind for it. This is the way with all temptation. No wicked person would at once tempt another to be profane, to be drunk, to be an infidel, or to commit adultery. The principles are first corrupted. The confidence is secured. The affections are won. And THEN the allurement is little by little presented, until the victim falls. How everyone should be on his guard at the very first appearance of evil, at the first suggestion that may possibly lead to sin! (Barnes’ Notes).↩