Matthew 4:1-4

What does Matthew mean that Jesus was led by the Spirit? What Spirit?

He is speaking of the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit as many refer to Him. This is one and the same as the Spirit that Jesus was promising to authorize and provide to the disciples after Jesus departed this world (Acts 1:6-11). The point Matthew makes is based on a truthful understanding of the Spirit as described by John

This is the One coming through water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the One witnessing, because the Spirit is the truth (1 John 5:6).

The Spirit is the truth. John tells us that the purpose of the Spirit is to guide us in the truth:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13).

Since Jesus was to be the perfect Lamb of God unto the salvation of all men that would repent of sins and be cleansed in His name, it is appropriate that the penultimate example for all Christians to be led in truth to thereby uphold the Word of the Father. Christ, of course, is the Son of God. Anyone seeking to have an inheritance of eternal life must become sons of God in like manner. That is led by the Spirit of God which is the Spirit of Truth.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. 

Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in Words taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. 

But a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)


Into what wilderness was Jesus led?

This is likely Matthew referring back to the same wilderness as designated concerning John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1. This would be the wilderness of Judah.

Is Matthew indicating to us that Jesus went into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted?

The take away here is that Jesus was led by the Spirit into a rural area without distractions from other people. The activity that Jesus conducted Himself in included prayer and fasting. This is the denial of all carnal considerations, including those we call “needs”, in order to focus the heart, mind, soul, and strength on the things spiritual.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

But I say, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another; lest whatever you may will, these things you do. (Galatians 5:17)


Why would Jesus need to go through an event of being tempted by Satan in this manner?

Living in the flesh, Jesus was tempted the same as any other man. To be tempted is to be tried or tested to see if the course of righteousness a soul is set to can be changed in spite of commitment. The Lord went through this from the beginning as any person must endure. At this time, He was beset with the purpose involving preaching and establishment of the disciples who were to become apostles. The Lord is tempted at this time by Satan himself in order to try and ruin the course set before Him. This is the best time to rattle someone’s commitment to a task or goal, at the beginning. This is when the finish seems most distant and for many, taking the first step can be the most challenging step of all. Jesus shows us that beginning to participate in God’s purposes and goals can be challenging but must be done despite any hardship. What hardships can come against someone that is committing themselves to the Lord? Anything that involves this world of the flesh including family (Matthew 29:19), friends (James 4:4), careers (Philippians 3:4-7), assets (Luke 18:22), wealth (Hebrews 13:5), etc. In this temptation, as through His entire life, He shows we should not forsake the Lord for anything at any time, no matter what the world suggests. There is no vacation from being a Christian. In this we should consider the example of Joshua:

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor will I forsake you.  Joshua 1:5

And if it seems evil in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods whom your fathers served Beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.  Joshua 24:15 


Was Jesus not hungry during the 40 days and 40 nights that he fasted?

Matthew says that after the period of fasting Jesus was hungry. Some would suppose that, being the Lord, He could go without consuming any food and be fine where the normal person would not make it without serious health issues. That is to say, this was a miraculous event. Jesus wasn’t the only person to fast for 40 days. Moses and Elijah did so. Some suppose, likewise, that Moses and Elijah did so under miraculous help. But that would actually defeat the entire purpose of the fast in all three cases. The purpose is to show the affiliation of the Christ to mankind. Peter says that Jesus suffered and died on our behalf leading the way on the path of righteousness.

For you were called to this, for even Christ suffered on our behalf, leaving behind an example for us, that you should follow His steps; 

"who did not sin, nor was guile found in His mouth;"

who, having been reviled, did not revile in return; suffering, He did not threaten, but gave Himself up to Him who was judging righteously;      1Pe 2:21-23 

It by this example, that is only credible through conventional experiences, that we have the command to be holy as He is holy.

For think this within you, which mind was also in Christ Jesus, 

who subsisting in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, 

but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men 

and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.      Php 2:5-8 

If we can realize that Jesus suffered with miraculous help through the scourging, that He suffered and buckled under the weight of the cross, and that He suffered on the cross until He expired, then we should be able to recognize the suffering of hunger He underwent for 40 days and nights concentrating on the spiritual strength within Him. This is the spiritual strength the people around Him saw develop over the course of His life (Luke 2:52).

What is fasting?

Fasting is the denying of the will toward to the flesh in a centered and focused consideration of the spiritual needs of the person fasting or someone they need to pray for. This is the humble means of showing dependence and dedication to God’s helping hand. Christ demonstrates this through the period of fasting and temptation by Satan by proving every person has the ability to overcome all temptations. Paul states that though we have the ability, we all, with the exception of Christ, fall short (Romans 3). But that does not mean we have to continue falling short. Repent and do not sin anymore (Roman 6:12, 1 Corinthians 15:34). The strength it takes to deny ourselves the cares of the flesh is the same spiritual strength required to navigate clear of sin.

In the case of Jesus’ fasting for 40 days and 40 nights what would the fasting entail?

Some believe Jesus did not eat as He normally did. This is false. Or, some believe the angels ministered to Him in such a way that the fast was not demanding of Him but a formality for presentation. This also is false. Some believe, by projecting their own limitations on the Lord, that He did not eat sustaining meals at least drank some water and maybe had some limited bread or crackers. This is absolutely, false. Luke, the physician, states matter of fact what Jesus did. He did not eat (Luke 4:2).

Under what law, standard, or direction was the fasting accomplished?

Jesus lived his life subject and in perfect compliance to the Law of Moses.

Was the tempter only there at the end of the fasting for 40 days and 40 nights?

No. The period of fasting was one and same as the period of temptation: 40 days and nights. The writers of the event give us a generalization of the event through the three temptations placed upon the Lord.

Why would Satan tempt Jesus concerning stones being turned to bread?

This may have been a test of the Lord with respect to power and authority. Similar to the challenge latter that Jesus receives from certain concerning signs being shown so that belief could be established. The problem with this, is that belief, or faith, is not established through the experience of or witnessing of miracles of power and authority. Christ defers the miracle in as much as the power of God is revealed through His Word.

What does Satan challenge in verse 3?

“If you are the Son of God…”. The challenge concerns the authority of Jesus to conduct Himself in the purpose of God as, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”(Colossians 2:9). The purpose of the miracles were to show the hearer of the spoken word of God that the preacher is true of God. This was no different for Christ. He performed miracles so people could be reassured that Jesus was who He claimed to be. If they could not hear the message of the preaching, they would not be converted from sin. Even John said there were many signs and wonders performed before the people but they did not believe (John 12:37). The following verse quoting from Isaiah says they did believe because they would not hear the report that was revealed to them (John 12:38, Isaiah 53:1). John went on to explain their unbelief quoting also from Isaiah 6:10. Jesus went away from these particular people as stated in Verse 36 and left them to discuss His words. If the Lord would not continue to perform miracles among those that refused His message, why would He change stones to bread on behalf of Satan who will not obey the Jehovah?

How does Jesus answer the temptation offered by Satan?

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every Word going out of the mouth of God."

What text is Jesus quoting in verse 4?

Deuteronomy 8:3.

What is the correlation between the bread and word of God?

Bread is for the body as the word of God is for the soul.

Was Satan just trying to persuade Jesus to eat some bread?

If Jesus turned the rocks to bread, then Satan will have persuaded the Lord not to satisfy physical hunger but to satisfy a curiosity for rebellion. Innate to the eating of bread miraculously turned from stones would have been the use of authority given by the Father for goals not set for the Son of God. Christ, in this story, portrays the Son in the mind of the Spirit and in the flesh. This, in as much as, Christ is demonstrating the power of the Spirit over the things of the flesh (Romans 8:6-8).

What was the intent of the temptation?

The intent is to cause Jesus to stray from spiritual purposes to those governed by temptation (Galatians 5:16). Hence the title given for Satan in Verse 3, Tempter.

Was there anything wrong with turning stones to bread? Was there anything wrong with turning water to wine?

In itself no. It is what the two represent. The rocks-to-bread represent a delinquency from spiritual mindedness to a concern with the influence of the fleshly considerations. Specifically, the lust of the flesh that involves all things physical self-gratification. It is the rejection of the use of God’s power for others and use for self. The water-to-wine represents the power of God to provide His love to all, even those that are not ready for it (John 2:4). This is the pure fruit of the vine (not corrupted by alcohol which is destruction of the flesh) in the highest quality that gives blessing to the ones who receive it, whether they realize it or not.

What would have been wrong with Jesus turning some stones to bread at this time?

This would have played into the hands of Satan. If Jesus becomes deviated by the lust of the flesh then the opportunity of the fulfillment of all prophesy is lost. That means the possibility to render salvation through the blood of the spotless Lamb of God to all men (who have all fallen short of the glory of God) is lost. The embodiment of the glory of God in the flesh is lost (1 Timothy 3:16).

If Satan recognized the power that Jesus had to accomplish the miracle, then what was it about Jesus that Satan was challenging?

The authority of God in Jesus, as the Son of God, was being challenged. In as much as Satan demands this of Jesus, Satan acknowledges not on the power but the command of Christ over all things.

Go back to the first questions of this study. Why and by whose direction was Jesus fasting in the wilderness?

The Spirit of God is guiding Jesus. It is in this power of truth that Jesus is able to overcome the temptations. Many who know the truth of their problems still commit to the works of the flesh and create unnecessary sinful drama in their lives. So, what sets Christ apart from the rest of us? The Spirit not only is the truth, but the Spirit has the truth of love. Love, faith, and hope are the things that require knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to apply in such a way that leads us away from temptation. This is what Christ is exercising in the story of the 40 days and nights temptation. He is demonstrating the love that is required to help us (Revelation 1:5).

If Jesus had turned the stones to bread, then by what authority would He have been acting?


If we live by every word from God, then by whose authority do we act?

By the authority of the God through the Lord. We do all things in the name of Christ (Colossians 3:17).

If we live by every word from God, on whom do we depend (Deut. 8:1-3)?

We completely depend on the Lord and not ourselves, anyone, or anything (1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Hebrews 13:5).

If Jesus would not turn the stones to bread, on whose word is he acting and depending?

Jesus was acting on the expectation and word of the Father in heaven. This is the authorized word by which the true power of God can be seen. The power of God is the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16). The gospel of Christ is the word of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18). If Jesus was not acting in complete obedience of the Father’s word then the sacrifice on the cross could not be accomplished.