At a moment when Jesus was physically vulnerable, the devil brought his first temptation. “When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry. Now when the tempter came to him, he said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread’” (Matthew 4:2-3, NKJV).
There’s no sin in being hungry. So, what’s the issue here?
Satan was challenging Jesus. “If you are fully God, then you have God’s power in you. Right now, you’re in a very hard place. Why don’t you use the power God gave you to deliver yourself? Didn’t he give you that power to see if you would use it properly?”
Here is one of the most insidious temptations facing truly godly people. You have a passion for God. You’ve set your heart on being wholly surrendered to him. After a while, though, the Lord leads you into a wilderness experience, then questions arise. You begin to lose your bearings, wondering about God’s eternal purposes in your life. While you try to pray and gain the victory, Satan’s temptations seem fiercer than ever.
The enemy wants you to act independently of the Father. The devil says, “Your suffering isn’t from God. You don’t have to go through this. You have God’s power in you through the Holy Ghost. Speak the word. Free yourself. Satisfy your own hunger.”
First, Satan’s scheme was to create a power failure. He was hoping God wouldn’t honor Jesus’ cry for bread, should he ask. If heaven’s power failed, then Christ might doubt his divinity and turn aside from his eternal purpose on earth. Second, Satan knew Jesus was sent to do only what the father told him, so he aimed to convince Christ to disobey for his own welfare. That way, if Jesus used his power to avoid suffering, he might do the same later to avoid the cross.
How did Jesus answer the devil’s temptation? “He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’” (Matthew 4:4). Christ said, in essence, “My coming to earth is not about my needs, hurts or physical comfort. I came to give to humankind, not to save myself.”
Even at the height of his suffering, Jesus did not lose sight of his eternal purpose. If our Lord displayed dependence on the Father and compassion through a dry experience and the devil’s temptation, we can learn to do the same.