Let’s talk about the Temptations.
No, not these guys. Well, maybe another time. I mean the temptations Jesus experienced just before beginning his ministry. He has just been baptized by John, and he went off “into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” It says he fasted forty days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1–2).
I would not have passed that test. The longest I ever fasted was three days. But Jesus was tougher than I am in a lot of ways. It says the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted, but it does not tell of any specific temptations until after forty days and nights. I wonder if he was tempted during that time, or if the fasting was to prepare for the temptations.
If you know your Bible history, forty days in the wilderness recalls Israel’s wandering in the wilderness for forty years. It is also one of many parallels with Moses, who also fasted forty days and forty nights as he received the Torah from God (Exodus 34:28). Many commentators believe the Gospel writers wanted to present Jesus as “the prophet like Moses” who was promised in the Torah.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like [Moses] from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.
You could literally write a book on all the connections the Gospels make between Jesus and Moses. But for now we will just look at how the devil tempted Jesus.
Turning stones to bread
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The first temptation is obvious for someone who has been fasting for forty days. Turn these stones to bread. What harm could it have been? He was starving. Why not make a little bread, so he could eat?