Volume. XXVI, No. 4
Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Temptation of Jesus (Part1)- Scripture Text Matt 4:1-11


In the first 11 verses of Matthew Chapter 4, the Apostle Matthew gives an account of the temptations of our Lord Jesus by Satan, which happened after His baptism by the prophet, John the Baptiser, and just before He went to Capernaum (Matt 4:12ff). Two other Gospels describe this event: the Gospel by Mark which gives a very brief account in two verses, in Mark 1:12 and 13; and Luke’s Gospel which describes this event in 13 verses, Luke 4:1 - 13. In all these three Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – this event occurs after our Lord Jesus was baptised by the River Jordan. The fact that three of the four Gospels give a record of this event means that we should take careful note of its importance for our faith and to what God is trying to tell us. We should do well to understand how Satan tempted our Lord Jesus Christ; how these temptations were resisted by Him, and the implications and applications we can learn from this. 

By now, John the Baptiser must have known that Jesus is the promised Redeemer whom the Jews had been waiting for for centuries. In Matthew 3:16 -17, we are told that this John witnessed the revelation of the Son of God. 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This revelation to John from God about who this Man, Jesus, was could also be found in Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:21-22 and John 1:15-18 and 32-34.  In John 1:34 John the Baptiser said 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.” John saw Christ Jesus with his own eyes and was therefore a witness of Him. This Lord Jesus was clearly the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God.

On His way to Capernaum to begin His public ministry, our Lord Jesus met Satan “face to face”. In Matt 4:1 we are told that our Lord was “led up of the spirit into the wilderness”. This is also confirmed in Luke 4:1. Note that it was not Satan who led Christ Jesus into the wilderness, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 1:12 has a stronger emphasis 12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” Mark emphasised that Jesus was not only led but driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.

The word ‘wilderness’ suggests an isolated place where there is no or minimum human habitation, and where there are wild beasts (Mark 1:13). Where is this wilderness? We are not told. Humans have a tendency to venerate or make a special pilgrimage to a location where something important has happened, especially when it involves spiritual matters. For good and wise reasons, this location was hidden from us. If this location had been revealed, then people would make a pilgrimage to this location to worship the spot where Christ Jesus was tempted! Such was the evil tendency of man that God had to give us a specific command in Exodus 20:4 - 5 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:

Why is our Lord Jesus tempted in such a manner? As a human being, but without sin, our Lord Jesus was undergoing a test. It is a test that He must go through and must pass, in order that He could save mankind from the wrath of God. Praise God that our Lord Jesus passed the test.

How did Satan appear to our Lord Jesus? In Matthew’s Gospel the Holy Spirit did not reveal to us in what form the devil revealed himself. However, it is certain that Satan appeared visibly in person but not as what man has imagined as “a monster with horns and a forked tail, and with a pitchfork in his hand”!

In verse 2, we are told that Jesus “had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred”.  He ate nothing (Luke 4:2).

There are three ‘forty day’ periods in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus:  it was forty days from His birth to His presentation in the temple; He fasted for forty days in the wilderness; and there were forty days between His resurrection and His ascension to heaven.

In the Holy Scriptures, fasting is best understood as total abstinence from food and drink. Fasting is not an easy task. It involves discipline. While fasting is not obligatory in our faith, it is encouraged, together with prayer, as a means of promoting our faith in God. Our Lord fasted for forty days and forty nights. There were others who fasted for forty days – Moses, on Mt Sinai, in Ex 34:28 “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water”; Elijah did the same when he travelled to “Horeb the mount of God” in 1 Kings 19:8. Personally, I believe that for a person to fast for forty days and forty nights, God’s help is required. Without God, we would be dead long before we reached 40 days! Without God, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

God has created our bodies to use carbohydrate as an energy source on a daily basis. Carbohydrates constitute about half of most diets. Protein and fat are also in our diet, but they are not meant to be the primary energy source.

An average person has about one kilogram of carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscle as energy backup (a process called “glycogenesis”). Long distance runners consume high-carb foods (such as pasta) for several days before a marathon. The body will process these stores into glycogen that will be used gradually during the race. When this glycogen is needed, the liver releases glucose into the bloodstream to be used for energy.

Glycogen lasts for only a short time, and before these reserves are depleted the body begins to use a more complex, energy-rich source called lipids (fat). The person who fasts, drinking only water, will deplete his glycogen reserves in a few hours to a day or two (depending on energy demands) and will thereafter be using fat for energy.

In the case of our Lord Jesus’ long fasting, the body breaks down fatty acids (a process called lipolysis) in the liver and produces ketone bodies and other compounds that are released into the bloodstream (ketosis). As long as one remains sedentary or quiet, (such as during fasting and prayer--Ezra 8:21-23; Psalm 35:13; Acts 13:1-3), this keto-acidotic condition is not life threatening.

On the fortieth day of Jesus\' fast, we are told that Jesus was "an hungred" (verse 2). At this physical and starvation low point, Satan struck. Satan strikes when we are at our weakest. By this time, Jesus was about to break down His own body protein as a final food source, since His carbohydrate and fat reserves were virtually depleted. He must be extremely weak, exhausted, suffering from stomach pains, and ill. Even under these extreme starving conditions, the Lord did not yield but rebuked Satan three times with Holy Scripture. At the end of this trial, we are told "behold, angels came and ministered unto him" (Matt 4:11). (Source: http://www.icr.org/article/3621/)

Our Lord Jesus must have suffered physical hunger after the event. (Heb 2:14a, 17a) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;… 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren,” – He suffered just like us except He had no sin.

Looking at Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, there is a minor variation. Matthew’s order in the description of the second and third temptations of our Lord Jesus is reversed in Luke’s Gospel. The reason for this is that Matthew’s order is chronological, whereas Luke’s sequence is topical. 

What do we get out of this portion of Scripture that we read today

It reveals a deep and mysterious truth. It gives us practical and useful lessons which we should do well to pay heed to. There are three things we learn:

1. The Devil is a mighty and real creature.

2. Temptation by the Devil not to be taken lightly.

3. The Scriptures, the Word of God, is the chief and best weapon to resist the Devil.

I will discuss these three points next time, God willing.

God bless

Elder Michael D Lee

(...to be continued)


More Lively Hope




*Kitchen Roster: Team Leader: Dns Joyce Gong. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Daniel Volvricht.

*Session would like to thank Preacher Hai Seng Lim, organisers, Sunday School teachers, helpers, contributors & children for the fruitful VBS.

*Hope Bookstore - open 12:30-1:45pm every Sunday.

*Reminder: All reports for the ACM must be submitted to Clerk of Session, Dn Colin Gan, by next Lord’s Day, 31 July.

*All members of Hope BPC are expected to attend the ACM. Please keep this date in your diary.

*An Outreach/Gospel Working Group to be formed to discuss/feedback about our Outreach/Gospel Rally. Anyone who is interested - please meet after Worship Service on 7 Aug. More details next week.

 Looking Ahead

* Thanksgiving Memorial Service, Sat 6 Aug, 11  

   am. (for the late Bro Winston Selvanayagam). All 


* Gospel Rally, 7:30 pm, 7 Aug.

* ACM, Sat, 27 Aug.

* AFG Retreat, 1 - 3 Oct.

* Christmas Concert, Sat, 3 Dec

Praise and Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Pr Hai Seng Lim (Melb); Bro Raymond & Sis Swee Yee Chia & family (Adl); Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (Ben/Adl); Bro Peter & Sis Mary Ting & family (Adl); Mrs Helen Heah; Sisters Samantha Heah, Gillian Ong (Bris) & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl); others who arrived safely.

2. Church activities - over the past week.

3. VBS last week - Pr Hai Seng Lim, organisers, Sunday School teachers, helpers & contributors. Preaching of God’s Word; Good attendance.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. New worshippers & visitors. Salvation of souls.

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser;  Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Bro Elton Law; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Margaret Hooper, Myung Ki (Lond), Irena Kurek-Braden (NSW), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe (Per), & Susan Varadi; Mr Swee Liang Ng (Bro Raphael’s father); & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & Ministry; Life University; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh).

3. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry.

4. Batam Missions - Sis Ang Liang Phoa & Ministry.

5. iSketch&Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry - Pr H S Lim (Melb).

6. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & Missionaries around the world.

7. Ministry in New Life BPC, London - Ps & Sis Ki.

8. Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.

9. Ps & Sis  Weng - Ministry in Hope BPC.

10. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.

11. House of Hope, Cebu, Philippines.

12. Journey mercies: Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (KL/Zur); Sis Myung Ki (Lond); & those who are travelling.

13. Health in pregnancy - Sis Edna Obed.

14. Job - Sis Clara Sim.

15.  Studying in Auckland, NZ - Bro Peter Koo

16. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin & Korean.

17. God’s comfort - Those in grief.

18.  Street-Evangelism - Protection of participants & Salvation of those who received Gospel tracts.

19. God’s Protection of Israel & Salvation of Jews.

20. Unity of doctrine & fellowship of Australian B-P Churches.





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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041