Matthew 4:1-11

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These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Matthew 3 Inductive Bible Study – The Temptation of Jesus

Matthew 4:1-11 – The temptation of Jesus

Discussion Questions

Why would the Spirit lead Jesus to be tempted? How does this fit with Jesus teaching the disciples to pray “lead me not into temptation?”
Why might Jesus fast 40 days and 40 nights? How can he fast for so long? What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ example here?
Who is the tempter?
What do you think is Satan’s chief goal in coming to tempt Jesus? What is the underlying theme of all of the temptations?
Why does he tempt Jesus to turn the rocks into bread? Would that be sin to do? Why or why not?
How did Jesus respond? Why might Jesus have been tempted to do so?
What do we learn from Jesus’ response? What does the statement meant, “Man shall not live by bread alone…”
Why does Satan use Scripture in his second temptation? What does this teach us about Satan?
How does he use Scripture? What does this teach us about the proper way to use Scripture?
What can we learn from Jesus’ response? Was Jesus saying that Satan should not put Him to test or that He should not put God to test? How might we sometimes put God to the test?
How could Satan gives the kingdoms of the world to Jesus? Aren’t they His already?
What do we learn from this final exchange?
What do we learn from the timing of the angels visit to minister to Jesus?

Cross-References

Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 2:16 – Jesus was tempted in all things as we are yet without sin.
Deuteronomy 9:9, 1 Kings 19:8 – Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days and nights.
Deuteronomy 8:3 – Jesus’ first response is quoted from here.
Deuteronomy 6:16 – You should not put the Lord your God to test.
Mark 8:11-12 – We are to accept God’s Word in faith without demanding a sign.
Psalms 91:11-12 – The verse Satan quotes from, but he omits “in all your ways.”
James 1:13 – God does not tempt anyone.
Matthew 6:13 – Lead us not into temptation.
Ephesians 2:2 – Satan is the prince of the power of the air.

Teaching Points

1.Verse 1 – The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. While God did not tempt Him, it was part of His sovereign plan to allow Satan to tempt Jesus. This encounter would serve as an example for us of how to face temptation. It also shows us Jesus’ victory over temptation and evidence of His sinlessness. Note that it seems (also see Mark 1:12-13) that Jesus was being tempted the whole time and we only see the culmination of those temptations, not each individual one. In the Lord’s model prayer in Matthew 6:13, we learn that we should pray and ask God not to lead us in to temptation. God Himself will never tempt us and He has also promised to never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. At the same time He may allow Satan to tempt us, but then use those temptations as a trial to teach us to rely on Him more. Can you think of any examples in the Bible where God allowed this? In the book of Job, God allows Satan to tempt Job severely. At the same time, He uses it as an opportunity to teach Job and his friends (and by extension through the book of Job all of us) more things about God. While God may sovereignly use temptations in our lives, we should still do our best to avoid them.

2.Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights –

A. Medically speaking it is possible to fast from food for this long, even up to 8 weeks. Generally a healthy person with more fat stores can make it longer. A person would be very hungry at the beginning of the fast, but as the body adjusts and begins to use its own stores the hunger would be lessened toward the middle. When the hunger returns again it is a sign that the body really needs more sustenance.

B. While Satan used this time to tempt Jesus, God used it to test Jesus, to purify and prepare Him for the mission He was about to fulfill. Jesus was about to embark on His three year public ministry, which would change history forever. He would face serious opposition both from people and Satan and his demons. Soldiers train intensely before entering battle. Pilots are trained extensively before flying with passengers. And now was Jesus’ time to prepare for his mission. This period of time was important for Jesus to focus completely on the Father. He could put aside worldly distractions and desires. He would even put aside the desire for food. His flesh was weakest during this time, so He had to rely on the strength from God and His Word to defeat those temptations as we will see in Matthew 4:4.

C. Lessons for us –
I.We should spend lots of time in prayer and meditation before taking major steps in our life.
II.We should have times in our life when we put aside worldly distractions and focus on God and His Word. This could include fasting from food or from other things such as internet, movies, or social media.

3.The first temptation –
A. Satan wanted Jesus to go outside of God’s timing. Satan wanted Jesus to use His power for selfish reasons.
B. Satan wanted Jesus to focus on His physical hunger and physical desires instead of spiritual nourishment.
C. Satan tempts Jesus in the lust of the flesh.
D. Jesus responds with God’s Word.
E. He recites a verse from Deuteronomy 8:3. Here God intentionally let the Israelites be hungry so that He could feed them with Manna. He did so in His timing. And He did so to teach them to rely on God for sustenance. Jesus stresses the same point.

4.The second temptation –

A. Josephus said the pinnacle of this temple was 450 feet high.
B. Satan uses Scripture to tempt Jesus. This shows us that Satan is very familiar with the Scriptures. But he twists them to use them for his own purposes.
C. He intentionally omitted part of the verses he was quoting from Psalms 91:11-12. He also twisted the meaning and application, implying that a verse used to teach us that we should trust God should be applied by testing God. In essence he was suggesting that Jesus force God’s hand by intentionally putting Himself in harm’s way so that God would have to save Him.
D. We have to be very careful to correctly interpret Scriptures. That means not taking them out of context.
E. You should not put the Lord your God to the test – I have read this passage tens of times. But I think I misunderstood it every time before. I always thought that Jesus was telling Satan in essence, “You should not tempt me. You should not put me [emphasis mine] to the test.” But reading it this time, it dawned on me that what I think Jesus is saying is, “I [Jesus] should not test God.” To throw Himself off of the temple and then ask God to send angels to catch Him would be testing God to make sure that His words were true. It would be like us saying, “God, if you are really true, then let it start raining right now.” A person does test God in ways like these if His faith in God is strong. For Jesus to actually throw Himself off the temple would have been to demonstrate a lack of faith in God and in His promises and Scripture. It would have been a way to ask God to prove Himself as true. But real faith doesn’t need additional proof or signs.
F. We should not test God by asking Him to prove Himself to us. In faith asking God to fulfill His promises is much different than in doubt trying to manipulate Him to do something we want Him to do at the time we want Him to do it.

5.The third temptation –

A. Did all of this belong to Satan? Yes and no. He is the prince of the power of the air. Most of the people in the world are and were under Satan’s control (as they are dead spiritually). Most of the kings and rulers are and were under Satan’s influence. But this world does not belong to Satan. He is a usurper. At the right time, Jesus will return and take the world and people back for Himself. He will put Satan where he belongs. He will be King. But He will do so by defeating Satan, not by making a deal with him.
B. We see Satan’s true heart of pride. He wants to be worshiped. He wants to be God.
C. Jesus showed His true power and authority. He commands Satan, and Satan must obey. When you are tempted, turn to Jesus because He is stronger and Satan cannot stand up to Him.
D. Jesus responds with Scripture again, giving us an example that we should always respond to lies and temptation with truth. Meditate on the truth of God’s Word and use it to defend yourself against attacks.

6. Verse 11 – At the right time and in the right way God did fulfill His promise from Psalms 91 and other Scriptures to care for Jesus. God does keep His promises to us. We don’t need to manipulate Him into doing what He said He would do. Here we learn important lessons on God’s goodness and on His perfect timing.

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