Matthew 4 Study Guide

Following His baptism, an incredible moment that signaled the beginning of His ministry, which would ultimately end at the cross, we’re told “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Why was this the first place the Spirit took Him? Because it was the next step in reversing the curse of Adam. What does that mean? Romans 5:12 (NIV) says, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people.”

In order to reverse the curse of Adam, in order for “God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ” to “overflow to the many” (Romans 5:15 NIV), Jesus had to endure the same temptation and overcome it. It had to happen for the same reason He needed to be baptized: “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15 NIV).

Consider the first temptation Jesus endured. After fasting for 40 days and nights, being hungry and vulnerable physically, “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan” (Revelation 12:9 NIV) showed up to tempt Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Is hunger wrong? Is it sinful to feel hunger? Obviously not. Usually, the temptations Satan throws at us aren’t “go murder 1,000 people.” It’s more subtle and even centered on natural, normal human needs. For example, sexual fulfillment isn’t sinful or unnatural, right? It’s given by God to serve very specific functions from God—propagation of the human race, a picture of oneness between Christ and the church, and the deep, intimate, beautiful bond of husband and wife. But Satan twists what is natural and godly and turns it into a perversion of its intended, godly function and purpose and tempts us to seek natural fulfillment apart from the spiritual, apart from God and His design.

With Adam and Eve, he tempted them through the natural need for food (“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food…”), but took it to an even deeper hunger within humanity to be “like God.” Is being like God bad? No. It’s a wonderful thing to desire to be like God, to become godly, to be conformed to His image. But they sought to do so by means that were outside of God and His design.

The desire to be “like God” was thus perverted to a desire to be God, to achieve godliness apart from God, and in direct rebellion to God’s commandment. The truth is Adam and Eve were already “like God” because they were made in His image and likeness. But more than that, they had direct, physical access to God and His presence, to seeing, hearing, and learning from Him. This is the only true path to becoming like God—intimacy and relationship with Him. Jesus knew this and showed us this in the way He responded to the temptation.

Jesus shows us that the only true source of life (food is necessary for life) and godliness comes from the very Word of God, from devotion and obedience to Him, His will, and His Word. This is what Adam and Eve should have said. “We don’t need a fruit God told us will harm us to be like Him. We need Him and to follow His Word to be like Him!”

The good news for us is that because Jesus reversed the curse, we now have the same Spirit in us that Jesus did and the same power to resist Satan and walk in intimacy, devotion, and obedience to God.

Reflection Questions

  1. What stood out to you about Matthew 4? What key words and ideas really stuck with you?
  2. How does Christ’s statement and His response to Satan change your perspective on life?
  3. This chapter shows us that anyone can quote Scripture, but it doesn’t mean they’re a student of the Word of God. What habits need to change in your life so you can become a true, devoted student of the Word?
  4. What can we be certain of when it comes to Satan’s attacks?
  5. The imprisonment of John shows us that sometimes things don’t go how we expect them to. How do you respond to the unexpected and unpredictable aspects of God’s work and will? Is there a better choice to make and a way to live in this regard?
  6. Matthew 4 shows the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry (His first message, the calling of His first disciples, and the first public healings). Meditate on Jesus’ earthly ministry. If you had lived during the time He walked the earth with us, which of the three would have captured your attention: His teaching, His preaching, or His healing?
  7. How will you apply the lessons found in Matthew 4?

This Week

Come up with practical ways you can integrate God’s Word in response to the spiritual attacks you’re sure to face.

Memory Verse

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”—Matthew 4:17 (NIV)

Prayer Guide

Jesus, thank You for reversing the curse. Thank You that You are a High Priest who can “empathize with our weaknesses,” who “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet [You] did not sin.” Thank You for doing everything I could not and making me right with the Father. Thank You for giving me true LIFE, BREAD, GODLINESS, and SATISFACTION. Help me not to be distracted by the cares of this world or deceived by the devil’s twisting of natural, normal things which You created to serve Your purposes, to glorify You, and to draw me deeper into relationship with You. Help me to instead keep my mind and heart focused on You and Your will. Please fill me with an ever-increasing appetite for Your Word and Your presence above the material. Amen.

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About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.