Matthew 4:1-11 gives a summary of three temptations that Jesus faced. The first one, turning stones to bread, is kind of an obvious one after having fasted for 40 days. The interesting thing about this temptation is that it doesn’t come across as anything inherently sinful. After all, there would come a time when Jesus would change water into
wine “Welch’s Grape Juice” and multiply a few loaves and fish into enough food to feed thousands.
I have to admit, I’ve never personally been tempted to turn stone into bread…though I won’t comment on the results of the temptations to use my power or resources for personal satisfaction.
In truth, the account of the temptations that Jesus faced isn’t unique because of the kind of temptations that are recorded…its unique because of Jesus’ response to them. He didn’t fall…he didn’t give in…not once!
We do. We all do. Not always, not every time. But all of us, some of the time…fall.
So what is the point of Matthew 4:1-11?
For one thing…it lets us know that Jesus was human…he was tempted too. For another, despite what it feels like, it also lets us know that we don’t have to give into temptation. As tempting as it can be sometimes to just give in.
But what about when we do fall…what about when we give in? What then? For that, we need to go somewhere else…ultimately to the cross…something implied in the passage, but not mentioned explicitly. But we can also go back to an Old Testament story.
To a king, who in the midst of a midlife crisis, did a terrible thing…he took another man’s wife and then he took the man’s life. II Samuel 11-12 contain the story…a story of incredible sin, thoughtlessness, selfishness, abuse of power….and perhaps even more incredibly….of forgiveness. Not a wishy-washy forgiveness with no judgment and no consequences…but an incredible forgiveness even with some horrible consequences.
So thank God…Jesus didn’t fall…but also thank God…even when we fall, we can get back up again…grabbing onto the cross as we do so.
Sin is always a really, really bad idea…but the worst thing you can do isn’t falling into temptation, but rather not getting back up again