Jesus has been led by God the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days (Matt 4:1–2). He voluntarily went hungry for these 40 days (Matt 4:2). Jesus knows he is the Son of God, because he just heard his father say these exact words (Matt 3:17).
The temptation of Jesus is a fascinating exchange. In this brief passage we find four explicit quotations of Scripture and deep theological themes.
In my last article I wrote about the way Satan misused Psalm 91 when he tempted Jesus to throw himself from the top of the temple (Matt 4:6). We saw that Scripture quoted out of context can be used for evil purposes.
I’m grateful to Seth S., one of our blog commenters, who suggested we look at the other side of this face off. He proposed we examine Jesus’s use of the Old Testament in his resistance of Satan in the wilderness.
This proved too much for a single post, so I will begin the task today and continue it in my next article.
Temptation to Produce Bread
Let’s set the stage. Matthew 3 ends with Jesus’s baptism, and Matthew 4 begins with his temptation.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1–4)
Satan tries to appeal both to Jesus’s hunger and his identity. Surely the Son of God could produce food for himself when he is hungry. Why not do it right here and now?
Jesus’s reply is worth studying in depth.