Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
There is a Devil. But he’s God’s Devil. It was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. To be prepared. For God’s purpose.
The word “tempted” here is translated from a common Greek word used a great deal in the writings of Homer and other ancient authors. So scholars have a very good grasp of it’s meaning from studying how it was used by Greeks outside of scripture.
Here, in Matthew, it most likely means “to test in order to ascertain the quality” of Jesus – his character – in the same way a jeweler may test a metal to determine if it’s really gold.
Is He really the Messiah? God in flesh?
Lent means forty days or the fortieth day.
Forty is the number of preparation in the bible: Forty days and nights on the ark as God prepared the land and His people for a new beginning (Genesis 7:!2). After Moses killed the Egyptian he tended sheep for forty years before returning to deliver God’s flock from captivity (Acts 7:30). Moses fasted and prayed for forty days before God gave him the Law (Deuteronomy 9:18-25). The Israelites wandered for forty years before entering the promised land (Deuteronomy 8:2-5). The spies spent forty days in Canaan before God led them into it (Numbers 13:25). The Israelites served the Philistines for forty years before Samson delivered them (Judges 13:1). Goliath taunted Saul’s men for forty days before David’s sling knocked him out (1 Samuel 17:16). There were forty days between the resurrection and ascension of Christ (Acts 1:3).
It is God who leads us to fast, pray, contemplate and prepare for forty days in the wilderness. And it is God who reveals, through the testing, our quality, our true metal. Revealed not to Him – because He already knows – but to us.
The knowing is opportunity to repent. Our repentance births a deeper intimacy with God and a greater participation in His making all things new.
God, we trust that Satan is Yours, that our temptations Yours, used by You to make our character Yours. Reveal to us who we are and make us more like Jesus.