Daily Readings & Thought for July 3rd. “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY …”
In today’s 4th chapter of Matthew we read of a very thought provoking event: this occurred before Jesus began his ministry. It is a challenge to understand it correctly! The chapter begins by telling us “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness…” Led by the Spirit!? So it was God’s will that this event happened. It took place in the wilderness away from people. The reason why the Spirit led him there was “to be tempted by the devil.”
What is the devil? Well first we note that there were 3 types of temptation that Jesus rejected! His “answer” in v. 4 is to state “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” We can see what that means for us today – we have that “word” in our hands, the source of ‘strength’ for our hearts to enable us to effectively resist inclinations to think or do anything that is ungodly.
But it is not sufficient to simply resist – we must think positively – in an ungodly world. We must feel ‘inspired’ by the future God’s word reveals, as we have been reading in Isaiah – and the lessons of failure – as shown by Saul when he became king..
How did Matthew come to write this account of his Master’s temptation? It is not until we come to his 9th chapter and v.9 that we read of him being called to follow Jesus. So Jesus must have told him – and no doubt the other disciples too! And what was the method that Jesus often used in teaching? Parables! It is obvious that v.8 is not literal, it tells us, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” No such mountain exists! Satan told Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” [v.9] What is Satan the symbol of? The temptation to serve self – before (or as well as) serving God!
Judas gave in to the temptation to serve self. Jesus said, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” [John 6 v.70] Jesus was surrounded by those with such minds. The start of this same chapter tells us of the feeding of the 5,000 – look how the people reacted! The people declared, “”This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” [v.14]
What happened next! ‘Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” But Jesus had come to be king! But this was a temptation to do the right thing – the wrong way! Let us reflect on all the forms of temptation surrounding us today! Truly “man shall not live (eternally) by what this world provides with all its’ opportunities; let us make sure we live ” by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”