I remember when I caught a cow in the wild. A few years ago my wife called and said she spotted a small cow in our backyard. After a few days of thinking she needed medication, I found the evidence…and it was much bigger than deer evidence.
So, I did what every meat-eating American would do. I set a trap (and yes, I contacted local farmers so I wouldn’t be the preacher cattle rustler). My father-in-law and I borrowed fence panels and we set food out every day, mostly day old bread. Day by day, we moved the food bowl closer and closer to the fence and eventually inside.
One day, the cow went inside to eat! I slowly crept over to the unsuspecting cow and pulled the gate shut. We had a cow! I remember, just before we had the cow butchered, holding a hamburger bun open with the cow in the distance between the slices. I sent my wife a picture entitled, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus is not just quoting scripture during His morning devotionals. He is being tempted by the devil himself after fasting for 40 days. Why was Jesus tempted and tested? I believe it was so every creature on, under, and above earth would know Jesus is the Victor! Jesus is the Conquering King! By exposing the devil’s tactics, Jesus gives us the victory to overcome temptation as well. Think about this: Jesus won over temptation after not eating for 40 days while Adam lost over temptation surrounded by everything in the world to eat!
The Last Adam (Jesus) would once and for all defeat the devil after the first Adam was defeated by the devil. The Last Adam would gain for us eternal life while the first Adam gained death and sin. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 says, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Verse 45 says, ” So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.”
What did Jesus use to defeat the devil? Before you say, “Well, He’s the Son of God,” remember He was fully human as well (John 1:1, 14). He used two very important things every believer has today - God’s Spirit and God’s Word. Matthew 4:1 says Jesus was led by the Spirit.
In order to overcome the devil, we must have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and we must walk in His Spirit (John 14:17). Jesus also had God’s Word. Each time Jesus was tempted, He responded with “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). It’s interesting that the devil also quoted Scripture back at Jesus in verse 6. The devil will even try to twist Scripture so you will sin! “Did God say” is his trick from the beginning (Genesis 3:1). That’s why it’s important to know, cherish, and use God’s Holy Word! It’s also interesting that Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy each time. If the devil tempted you and all you had was Deuteronomy, how much could you quote back at him?
What the devil was really getting at in this first temptation was the very love of God. If God really loved Jesus, He would have provided a meal for Him. The devil wanted Jesus to question God’s love for Him. If God wouldn’t provide, then since you are God’s Son, do it yourself. The devil wants us to think we are our own provider. Jesus knew where His sustenance and nourishment came from, and it wasn’t physical food.
His food was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34). What are you inches away from doing yourself instead of waiting on God’s provision? Have you exchanged moldy, day-old bread (Exodus 16:19-20) for the Bread of Life (John 6:35)? That’s why Jesus said we should pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Jesus, Bread from Heaven, give us Yourself daily and feed our hungry souls.
Stephen Harrison is the lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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