Today’s devotional by Richard Reed was recommended; it appears on the website My Christian Space. Click the title below to source and definitely take some time to look around the other resources on this fine website, including the one for a previous chapter of Matthew linked within the article.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” NIV translation
– Matthew 4:1
The translation of the Greek word to tempted is unfortunate and is better translated as tested. The idea of temptation is that someone can be bribed or talked into evil and the simple fact of the matter is that there was no chance that that was going to happen to Jesus.
Testing, on the other hand, was used by God many times to prove what was in the heart of man. In chapter 3, we saw that Jesus was identified with man and so a part of that identification was the fact that He would have to go through the same things as the rest of mankind. This proving of what is in the heart of man was not for God’s sake as He already knows what is in our hearts.
So, why was it necessary to prove the heart of Jesus? We see the answer in the fact that it was the devil that was to test Jesus. You see, up to this point, Satan (who does not know everything) thought that he had a chance to defeat the plan of God because he did not know what was in the heart of Jesus. After this testing, the handwriting was on the wall and Satan knew that there was no chance for him and that he was doomed.
“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” NIV translation
Before the testing came, Jesus had to be identified with the greatest of men.
He fasted (no food or drink) for forty days and nights which identified Him with both Moses and Elijah.
Moses fasted for forty days and nights when he went up on the mountain to receive God’s commandments.
The prophet Elijah did the same thing when his life was endangered by Ahab and Jezebel. He fasted before the Lord appeared to him to strengthen him.
This reminds us that the purpose of fasting is to focus our minds on the things of God and trusting in Him. Today, the practice of fasting is often used as a badge of superiority by some believers. This was not its purpose throughout the Bible as it was to be a very personal thing between a man and God. As we shall see in Jesus teaching (chapter 6), it was not even to be known to others that a man was fasting.