Original sin cast a long shadow. Throughout scripture we read of sin-scarred men and women who followed in Adam’s shadow, sinning as he had. Thwarting God’s commands and shunning His care, their imperfections weren’t only shadows of the first sin. They also foreshadowed the opposite to come: Jesus, by His love-filled sacrifice, would be all they weren’t.
You probably already knew that. But I implore you to let this essential truth sink deep within: Christ’s willing suffering for you needs to be the truth you stand on, and operate from. Meditate on His choice to sacrifice Himself for you, so that on days when despair and doubt threaten to undo you, the beauty of the knowledge of His love — already settled into your soul — salves your wounded heart.
Jesus is the second Adam. Jesus is the last and perfect Adam. He alone is beautiful. He alone is worthy. Think on His worthiness through this basic, yet profound, teaching about His testing by Satan:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil …’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’…Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4: 1, 4, 7)
The Messiah who would defeat the Devil (1 John 3:8b) and bring back God’s people from exile came to Israel around 4 b.c. As the prophets foretold, Jesus was the Son of David, had a miraculous birth, and was opposed by many of His own brethren (Matt. 1–2). Despite this opposition, Jesus still identified Himself with His people and confirmed His ministry through His baptism (chap. 3).
Israel went through the Red Sea into the desert where God tested their loyalty for forty years (Ex. 14; Deut. 8:1–2). Jesus was similarly tested for forty days after passing through baptism’s waters into the wild (Matt. 3:13–4:2). Christ succeeded where Adam and Israel failed, and He will restore all things…
In the desert, Jesus shows Himself to be the new Israel, the second Adam and true Son of God, so that His disciples can be adopted as the Father’s children (John 1:9–13).
Not by bread alone
When the Devil comes to Jesus, the Messiah has been “fasting forty days and forty nights” and is obviously hungry (Matt. 4:2). This reveals the hard place in which Jesus finds Himself. Scripture often associates forty days and nights with difficult circumstances. For example, Elijah endured the same period without food while on the run from Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1–8). The setting of Jesus’ testing is similarly arduous and presents a challenge that Adam, who lived in Eden’s bliss, never faced.
Satan wants Jesus to turn from His vocation as the Suffering Servant when he challenges Him to turn stones to bread (Matt. 4:3). We know this to be true because the Devil’s challenge is just like the one the crowd hurls at Jesus in Matthew 27:40, where the people mock Him, calling upon Him to come down from the cross. Of course, doing this would mean that Jesus distrusts both His Father’s promises to save the elect through His death and to vindicate His Son’s affliction (Isa. 53).
Jesus has been sent into the desert to endure fasting and suffering until His appointed time (Matt. 4:1). To seek sustenance contrary to God’s appointment would repeat the mistake of Israel who was similarly tested for faithfulness (Deut. 8:1–3) and disobeyed when they grumbled and refused to follow the Lord’s directions when He sent manna from heaven (Ex. 16).
Yet Christ refuses to use His divine power to circumvent His task of suffering service. He is not willing to stuff His belly and stand before the Father emptied of righteousness. Jesus will be satisfied to eat the food given Him — doing the will of God (John 4:34) — even if His physical hunger is not satiated … Despite His hunger pains, our Lord chose the food of His Father and embraced His mission of suffering…
Put God to the test?
After passing the first test, Jesus is taken to the “holy city” (Jerusalem) where the devil challenges Him to throw Himself off the temple (v. 5,6)…Now Satan wants Jesus to prove that the Creator is trustworthy. Basically, he says, “So, Jesus, if you are going to live by God’s Word, why don’t you see if He will keep His pledge to protect you?”…Jesus says, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Deuteronomy 6:16 refers originally to Israel’s testing of Yahweh at Massah (Ex. 17:1-7) when the nation in the wilderness demanded water immediately on their own terms. Their impatience showed that they did not trust His promise to meet their needs according to His timing. In the wilderness, Jesus believes His Father will keep His word and does not test God’s promise of protection. Thus, our Savior is shown to be God’s faithful Son, who, as the last Adam, undoes Israel’s failure and brings life to His people (I Cor. 15:22). (from R.C. Sproul’s Tabletalk Devotions)
Jesus came to earth and trusted the Father when He suffered, succeeding where Adam and Israel failed. He who alone is beautiful and worthy embraced His purposed mission of sacrifice. Jesus, the last Adam, the Light of the world, broke through and destroyed the darkness of the original shadow.
And He did this for you.