The Lord in the Wilderness (part 1)

Matthew 4:1-11

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”

Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto Him, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, ‘He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'” Jesus said unto him, “It is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'”

Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Then saith Jesus unto him, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.'”

Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him.

There has been confusion over this passage of Scripture regarding the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are some who suggest that these verses show that the Lord Jesus could have sinned and here when He was tested (tempt = test) He passed the test by not sinning. This might imply that He had a sin nature like ours and simply resisted the temptations of the “tempter.” Why else would He be tested, right? But this can’t be the case. Speaking of the Lord Jesus we read, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

I watched an interesting documentary on ancient bridges some time ago. (Yes, I know, how can “interesting” and “ancient bridges” be used in the same sentence?) Anyway, they reconstructed this bridge over some rural Chinese canal using sticks and bark and vines. Then when the flimsy looking thing was done, and while the whole town came out to watch, the chief engineer tested the bridge. He led not one, but two, mature, very large bulls onto the bridge and stood with them there to show that the bridge could hold the weight. Was the engineer wondering the whole time whether the bridge would collapse? No. He knew it could hold the weight. He tested the bridge in this manner as a demonstration to those watching, to those who would trust the bridge to hold them whenever they crossed over it.

Likewise, there was never a doubt that the Lord Jesus would withstand these temptations in the wilderness. He was without sin. But how could we know that? So in order to demonstrate to us that He was trustworthy beyond doubt and that we could genuinely depend on Him to be our Saviour, He was tested in a manner that would prove beyond doubt to us that He is who He claims to be: the sinless Son of God.

As those villagers knew that bridge would hold them based on the demonstration, we too can know that the Lord Jesus, who is without sin, can carry us. We are sinners and our sin renders us unqualified for eternal life (Rev 21:8). But He is sinless and has the authority to forgive our sins (Matthew 9:6).

Consider these verses:
“And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).

“… because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: ‘Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth…'” (1 Pet 2:21-22).

-J. Wilbur

Click here to go to Part #2 of this article.


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