Thoughts: Matthew 4

LauraAll Posts


When Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days, anticipating His ministry, perhaps he spent some time meditating about his great- great- great- grandparents who wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, anticipating the Promise Land. Perhaps that’s why, when the devil tempted Jesus at the end of that 40 day fast, the words that came out of Jesus’ mouth were excerpted specifically from God’s welcome-home speech to the Israelites when they arrived at their promised homeland so many years before. (Check it out in Deut. 6 and 8!)

The words:

1. “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

When tempted to make stones into bread, Jesus maintained that we live by God’s word – not bread alone.

[In His welcome-home speech, God reminded the Israelites that they learned this when – unable to make their own bread – they relied on God for manna, day-in and day-out.]

2. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

When tempted to cast himself off of the temple, Jesus maintained that we must not test God.

[In His welcome-home speech, God reminded the Israelites that they learned this when, at Massah, they whined about a lack of water instead of trusting God to provide for their needs.]

3. “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.'”

When tempted to worship the devil, Jesus maintained that we shall worship and serve God alone.

[As the Israelites, no doubt, chomped at the bit to dive in and enjoy their new home, God reminded them that although their circumstances have changed, their God has not. In poverty and in wealth, they must worship and serve Him alone.]


My question is, why did a hungry, lonely, tempted Jesus quote Scripture that is symbolic and reminiscent of a homecoming of all things?

Perhaps He spoke these words because His emptiness became our homecoming. While God spoke them to the Israelites upon the fulfillment of a promise (a homeland overflowing with milk and honey), Jesus spoke them to the devil upon the fulfillment of a promise to us (a Homeland overflowing with milk and honey).

In His emptiness, Jesus chose words that literally and figuratively proclaim God’s redemptive work. While He hungered, he filled us with the hope of promises kept.

The mirroring is no accident. When we come to the end of our emptiness and homelessness, Jesus is, indeed, the Promise Land – He is the home we are waiting for, overflowing with milk and honey. And when we open our mouths to speak, we can speak words as hopeful as his.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 5 -11