After his baptism, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit “into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). Jesus fasts forty days and forty nights, which connects what Jesus is doing now with what has already happened in the Old Testament.
After Israel passed through the water of the Red Sea, Moses and the people also went into the wilderness (Exodus 15:22). They were on their way to the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, where God’s kingdom would be established. And like Jesus, Moses also fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness while on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:28).
But in the wilderness, they fell into temptation and sin and failed to set up the forever-kingdom of God (Exodus 32:1).
So, by Jesus resisting temptation, he shows that he would succeed in the wilderness where Israel and Moses failed.
Jesus not only resists the devil but also banishes him with a word (Matthew 4:10). As Israel was supposed to banish their enemies in Canaan, Jesus drove out the real enemy. And his obedience and banishment don’t lead to the taking of one piece of land, but all of creation (Revelation 21:5). He is the new and better Moses and Israel who is claiming the world for the kingdom of God.
It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus’ first message is about God’s kingdom coming near (Matthew 4:17). He also calls his first four citizens into that kingdom and tells them they will fish for men (Matthew 4:19). This is a fulfillment of Jeremiah 16:16, where God promised that he would send out fishermen and hunters to gather up his people from all nations and bring them into this new kingdom.
What’s The Good News?
In his temptation, Jesus succeeds where Israel failed and where all humans fail. No one can overcome sin and the devil in their own power. The good news is that through Jesus the devil has been overcome. Not only did Jesus already overcome him in the wilderness, he also overcame the devil on the cross.
Satan literally means “accuser.” His greatest weapon is bringing accusations against us. These accusations about our sins and shortcomings leave us condemned. But when Jesus took our condemnation on the cross, he left Satan with nothing but lies and empty threats. Now there is no condemnation for those in Jesus (Romans 8:1). That is how he puts the powers of Satan to open shame (Colossians 2:15).
We can resist sin because the same Spirit in us is the same Spirit that led and empowered Jesus to resist by the Word of God (Matthew 4:1). Since Jesus has freed us from the power of sin, death, and the devil, we can be made citizens in the kingdom like his first followers.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who refuses to leave us in our sin and condemnation. And that you would see Jesus as the one who succeeded where we failed so that he might give us victory where we only deserved defeat.