Matthew 4:4 the Word—Source of Life
Thoughts from Matthew 4:4
We have been talking about Paths to Faith, including reason, revelation, obedience, and Christ’s works. With all this as background, it is important to remember the Word of God is a source of life. Our key verse for this topic is Matthew 4:4.
Jesus just had been baptized in water by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God descended upon him like a dove, God had declared Him to be His beloved Son, and Jesus was on the threshold of His ministry. Jesus was about 30 years old.
Now, Jesus was being led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. As the Greek verb indicates, Jesus was being “driven” or “thrown” out into the wilderness. This was in accord with God’s purpose.
Jesus would be tempted in three ways: (1) to use His supernatural powers to sustain himself, (2) to act presumptuously and save Himself, and (3) to compromise to gain power and control (Matthew 4:1-11). These are temptations that confront many ministries.
Concerning the first temptation, the devil tempted Jesus with this comment, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Verse 4).
Our next “thoughts” will be devoted to the Word of God. We will see how important it is, when we meet temptations, to rely on God’s Word. This, too, is a path to engendering and strengthening our faith.
More Thoughts from Matthew 4:4
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days. Matthew says that He became very hungry. Seizing the moment, the devil tempted Jesus to use His supernatural power to sustain Himself. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Several points stand out. First, we normally live by “bread.” That is, we normally sustain ourselves by natural means as far as our physical being is concerned. We work to earn a living, to buy food, clothing, and shelter. Indeed, Paul said, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The normal laws of nature are the laws by which we live.
Second, “bread alone” is insufficient to sustain us in all aspects of our life. Bread by itself will not sustain the whole man. Bread alone leads to sorrow. Esau discovered this when he came in from the fields faint with hunger. Jacob persuaded Esau to sell his birthright for bread and lentil soup (Genesis 25:28-34). Esau fell prey to Jacob’s temptation.
Third, we should live by “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus was quoting Moses (Deuteronomy 8:3). God humbled the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. They hungered and God fed them with manna. The Word of God is the higher law and the true source of life.
Every Word that God pronounces is profitable for us. Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16).
Thoughts from Matthew 4:5-7
When the devil tempted Jesus to use His supernatural power to sustain Himself, Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 which says that man shall not live by bread alone. After this, the devil tempted Jesus to take any action that would be presumptuous. Matthew 4:5-7 records the story as follows:
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands, they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus said to him, “On this other hand, it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Here, even the devil quoted Scripture, but he wrongly applied it. He was asking Jesus to apply Psalm 91:11-12 to a frivolous action. He challenged Jesus to take this action to demonstrate that He was the Son of God. Jesus did not need to take this kind of action to prove who he was. In effect, the devil was challenging Jesus to take this action under the guise of exercising faith.
Many times, we may be tempted to do things thinking we are exercising faith. There is a time to do this. Throughout our lives, we walk with faith and hope. When we believe that we are acting in God’s will this is very appropriate. However, there may be times when we are tempted to go beyond what faith justifies.
When the devil tempted Jesus, He answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. He said. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Once again Jesus responded by citing the Word of God. This principle is very basic to all that we do. We must turn to the Word and be guided by what God says. The Holy Spirit will help us apply the Word to our actions.
More Thoughts from Matthew 4:8-11
The devil had tempted Jesus in these two ways: (1) to sustain himself physically with His supernatural power by commanding that stones become the bread and (2) to act presumptuously by casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and counting on angels to save Him. Next, the devil temps Jesus with control over the whole world providing Jesus would compromise by falling and worshipping him. Here, is Matthew’s account:
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things will I give you if you fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
The issue in this temptation is compromised. Compromise is sometimes good. When we are working together with others, issues occasionally arise. Providing basic ethical principles are not broken, we may have to give in to each other. This may be necessary for us to get along with each other. This would be in harmony with what Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with al men.”
However, it is never for us to fall and worship the devil. As in the cases of the first two temptations, Jesus answered by quoting the Word of God. This time He cited Deuteronomy 6: 13 which says: “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” The Word of God is essential to our full obedience to God.
More Thoughts from Matthew 4:11
Driven by the Spirit, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting while He was there. When this long fast was over, the devil tempted Him three times. Jesus answered each time by quoting the Word of God. Matthew concludes his report about this experience with these comments: “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
Mark does not mention the departure of the devil and leaves the impression that the angels were ministering throughout the forty days of temptation. He says, “and the angels were ministering to Him [Jesus]” (Mark 1:13). The logical conclusion is that the angels ministered to Jesus during the forty days and especially at the end.
The amazing truth is that the angels ministered to Jesus, the Son of God. By taking on the form of man, Jesus put Himself in a position to need the ministry of the angels. Just as He was empowered by the Holy Spirit, He was served by angels.
How much more do we need the ministry of angels. In Hebrews 1:14, we read: “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who inherit salvation?” The author of Hebrews (13:2) also says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” We will study more about angels and their ministry to us in my next “thoughts.”
More Thoughts about Angels
When the devil tried to get Jesus to act presumptuously, he cited Psalm 91:11-12. These verses declare: “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.” The devil wrongly applied this passage by tempting Jesus to presumptuously cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple.
Thankfully, we can correctly apply these verses. We can rejoice that God has given His angels charge concerning us. Our responsibility is to seek to know the will of God and act by it. When we do, we can apply these verses to our lives. The main issue is to discern, to the extent we can, the will of God.
Without a doubt, God’s angels have helped us many times without us even knowing that they were helping. However, all of us face times when it seems that God has not acted to resolve our issues. It may seem that heaven is silent. This does not mean that the angels have abandoned us. It may simply mean that God is working out a different purpose. This was true even for Jesus.
When Judas and his crowd came for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of the disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of a slave of the high priest. Jesus told the disciple to put his sword back in place. Then He said: “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mathew 26:53).
Jesus could easily have been delivered from this crowd, but it was not God’s plan. Jesus was committed (Matthew 26:42) to doing the will of the Father, whatever the cost. The angels will act following the will of God.
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.