In Matthew’s Gospel we have the account of how “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted …” (4:1). He had just received “the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (3:16) and “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’”.

The first thing God’s Spirit did was to drive Jesus into the wilderness. After 40 days of fasting, he encountered “the devil” (verse 5), but he said, “Be gone Satan” (verse 10) when he was tempted to use his spirit powers the wrong way. The events described are physically impossible, especially “a very high mountain and (to be) showed all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (verse 8). How did Matthew know the temptations took place? It was only later that Matthew was called to be a disciple (9:9). Jesus told him of his temptations.

What lesson does this episode of temptation teach? Note that Jesus ends the description of each temptation, rejecting it by saying, “it is written”. Our Lord had the word of God in his heart, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. He quoted Moses’ words from Deuteronomy 8:3.

The first verse of Matthew’s Gospel calls Jesus “the son of David”, and David wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Jesus demonstrated he had done this. Let us follow his example. Remember Jesus’ best-known parable, the one about sowing the seed? The key words that Jesus spoke at the end of it were, that the seed “… in the good soil are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).