Matthew 4:3-4. “And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
We are not told what form Satan used when he appeared to Jesus; it really wouldn’t have mattered, because Jesus knew exactly who He was dealing with. One thing I am very sure of is that Satan did not appear in a red suit complete with tail, horns, and pitchfork.
We do know that he waited until Jesus was at a very low ebb physically. Satan does that, you know. He looks for weakness, and that is where he pushes his way in. All bullies are cowards at heart, always seeking the weak, the helpless, those who are smaller than they are. Completely contemptible.
There are those who call themselves Christian who deny the existence of Satan. They want to believe that Jesus’ experience here was the result of some sort of delirium caused by His fast, and that it was the imagination of a weakened mind. In my opinion, such drivel is great slander against Jesus Christ.
The denial of the existence of Satan is a denial of evil, of sin. As a result, we may make poor choices, we may make “mistakes,” but we don’t really sin.
Jesus shed His blood to atone for poor choices and mistakes? Really?
No, Satan is real; he is busy; and he passionately hates God and all who believe in Him. His goal is to take as many as he can to eternal damnation, because he loves to destroy that which God loves. Evil, indeed, because the denial of a real devil results in denial of sin, judgment, wrath, atonement, a Savior, and of God.
In this passage, Jesus is not tempted to do evil. Instead, He is put to a test; He was brought to trial and examined to see if He could withstand helping Himself when He was weak in His human body. Ultimately, Satan was hoping to keep Him from fulfilling His purpose, which was to bring salvation to mankind.
Looking closely at the first trial, we see immediately that Satan questioned Jesus’ claim to be God. He said, “If Thou be the Son of God,” openly casting doubt on His holiness. Then he says, in essence, “Look, You’re hungry and weak. If you really are the Son of God, then help yourself out. Tell the stones to become bread, and have yourself a feast!”
And how did Jesus respond? Simply with the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, the only piece of armor described in Ephesians 6 that is an offensive weapon rather than a protective shield. Jesus knew Satan from before the world was created, and He did not strike him down dramatically or attempt to placate him. He simply quoted scripture. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3).
Here is a nugget for us to mine from this passage. When we are tested, we need nothing more than God’s Word to put Satan in his place and win the day. The importance of reading, studying, and memorizing the Word cannot be over-emphasized.