Matthew 4:1–11 (NRSV)
Chapter 4Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Verse 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. Verse 3The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." Verse 4But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Verse 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, Verse 6saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Verse 7Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Verse 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; Verse 9and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Verse 10Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Verse 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Jesus is ready to take the stage of his ministry. At his baptism he has just heard the benediction of the voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son. In him I am well pleased!” With a pedigree like that, what more does one need? No wonder, almost in the next breath, the devil appears to test this new preacher-prophet, as if to say, “You’ve got it all. Go for it. Just trust yourself!” But “what if?” What if that trust is misplaced? As John the Baptist will later press Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?” (11:3) But at each challenge, Jesus refuses the bait and reasserts his trust in God and God’s word.
Jesus’ example is certainly a model for us to ponder in our journey of life. When all the “what if’s” come our way, in what or in whom will we place our trust?
God of promise, when temptations come to place our trust in ourselves or in the world around us, teach us to follow our Lord’s example and place our trust securely in the word and promise of God. Amen.