“When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:2–3).
At a moment when Jesus was physically vulnerable, the devil brought his first temptation.
There’s no sin in being hungry. So, what’s the issue here? Satan was challenging Jesus: “If you are fully God, then you have God’s power in you. And right now, you’re in a very hard place. Why don’t you use the power God gave you to deliver yourself? Didn’t he give you that power to see if you would use it properly?”
Here is one of the most insidious temptations facing truly godly people. Like your example, Jesus, you have a passion for God. You’ve set your heart to be wholly surrendered to him. Then the Lord leads you into a wilderness experience and after a while, questions arise. You begin to lose your bearings, wondering about God’s eternal purposes in your life. And while you try to pray and gain the victory, Satan’s temptations seem fiercer than ever.
The enemy wants you to act independently of the Father. The devil says, “Your suffering isn’t of God. You don’t have to go through this. You have God’s power in you, through the Holy Ghost. Speak the word—free yourself. Satisfy your own hunger.”
Satan’s first scheme was to create a power failure. He was hoping God wouldn’t honor Jesus’ cry for bread, should he ask. If heaven’s power failed, then Christ might doubt his divinity and turn aside from his eternal purpose on earth. Second, Satan knew Jesus was sent to do only what the father told him. So he aimed to convince Christ to disobey here for his own welfare. That way, if Jesus used his power now to avoid suffering, he might do the same later to avoid the cross.
So, how did Jesus answer the devil’s temptation? “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Christ said, in essence, “My coming to earth is not about my needs, hurts or physical comfort. I came to give to humankind—not to save myself.”
Even at the height of his suffering, Jesus did not lose sight of his eternal purpose. And if our Lord learned dependence and compassion through a wilderness experience, so will we.