Jesus’ answer to the devil’s temptation, found in vs. 4, conclusively silenced all three aspects of Satan’s temptation. The true mark of Jesus’ Sonship was His obedience to the will of the Father, not being a miracle-worker. True provision for His needs would come in dependence on the Father alone, not in obeying Satan’s will, or in depending upon Himself. The best and only path for Jesus to follow was the difficult path of suffering that His Father ordained for Him, not the easy “bread path.” Jesus’ obedience, dependence on the Father, and walking the path of suffering are combined in His simple, yet profound answer in vs. 4 of the text: man shall live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Satan tempted Jesus to satisfy His hunger with physical food. But this was Jesus’ food: not to be a miracle-worker, to depend on Himself, or to walk the path of ease, but to live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth.
Jesus did not deny that man needs physical bread to live. In His answer to Satan’s temptation Jesus said that man shall not live by bread only, implying that bread is necessary for one’s existence. Jesus Himself teaches His people to pray for their daily bread. Eating bread for physical life is not evil, but good. Jesus, too, ate bread.
But for Jesus, His bread, His very life, from a spiritual perspective, was to obey the Word and will of God. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy. Israel in the wilderness needed to learn that God was their only Provider. They needed to learn that Jehovah would lead them on the proper path, according to His will. They were to obey Him and Him alone.
Likewise, Jesus was to obey God’s will. God’s will for Jesus was that He save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21); through all His ministry that He call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32); that He redeem those under the law (Gal. 4:5). God’s will was Jesus’ life (Matt. 12:50; Luke 2:49). John 4:34 states: “Jesus saith unto them [the disciples], My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Jesus’ true food consisted not in bread and certainly not in turning stones into bread, but in living according to the will of God.
We can learn much from Jesus’ answer to the devil. We limit ourselves to two applications. First, the form of Jesus’ answer to the devil should be modeled by us in our response to temptation: quoting Scripture. This implies that we know the Scripture well, and that we have many portions of the Bible memorized. Only the powerful, effectual Word of God can ward off Satan. Man’s word is ineffective. Man’s word only serves to bring him into further temptation and trouble. Do you and do I know Scripture well enough to answer Satan’s every temptation?
Second, our meat, our bread, must be that we obey the will of God. This we must say to the devil every time he comes to tempt us. To sin is to stray from God’s revealed will in His Word. But when we are so consumed with zeal to seek God, then we will delight to walk in the path of suffering which He requires us to take. Then we can, by the grace of God, turn Satan aside when He seeks to take us off the path God has ordained for us.
Next Monday we begin our consideration of the second temptation, Lord willing.