Having been identified by God as His Son in Matthew 3:17, Jesus was sent by the Holy Spirit into the desert. The purpose of this trip was, according to verse 1, “to be tempted by the devil.”
Apparently the devil was patient and waited until Jesus was physically depleted from having fasted for 40 days & nights (v. 2). Because Christ did not have a sin nature to appeal to, Satan waited until Jesus was starving, then tempted him to use his power as God to create food for himself from the abundant stones that lay around them (v. 3).
It is not immediately obvious that what Satan was tempting Christ to do was sinful. Didn’t Christ create all things? Aren’t all things created by him and for him (Col 1:16)?
Yes! So, would it be wicked for the son of God to sustain his human life by adapting what he created to serve him in his moment of physical need?
The answer is that it would not be a sin for Christ to change the stones into bread. He did miracles like this to feed others without being guilty of sin. No, it was not sinful for Christ to use his divine power to meet human needs.
But it would have been sinful for him to do for himself what other humans could not do for themselves. People die of starvation routinely somewhere in the world. It is part of the human condition. But, because it is part of the human condition, Christ, who was fully human, had to be subject to that aspect of the human condition, too.
In other words, it would be inappropriate and selfish for him to satisfy his human desires just because he had the divine power to do so. Because human salvation was dependent on Jesus living a fully human life, it would be wrong for him to make living as a human easier on himself by using his divine power to cheat.
Although you and I don’t have the power to satisfy our desires supernaturally, we do understand the temptation to live outside of the Father’s will. Many sins stem from a desire to exempt ourselves from the struggles of the human condition:
- Those who steal are looking for an exemption from the command to work for a living.
- Those who commit adultery are looking for an exemption from the marriage covenant they made before God.
- Those who lie are looking to evade accountability about something or to make themselves look better than they really are.