Matthew 4:8-11: The Third Temptation of Christ

 Matthew 4:1-11    

 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 

           2       After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished. 

           3       The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” 

           4       But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” 

           5       Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, 

           6       and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 

           7       Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 

           8       Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. 

           9       And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.” 

           10       Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ” 

           11       Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs. 

Luke 4:1-13

           4:1       Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 

           2       where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished. 

           3       The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 

           4       Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’ ” 

           5       Then the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 

           6       And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm—and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 

           7       So then, if you will worship me, all this will be yours.” 

           8       Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ” 

           9       Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 

           10       for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 

           11       and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 

           12       Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 

           13       So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time. 


kingdoms of the world: The devil offered all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus. In the Luke account, the devil exaggerated his dominion over them by saying they were for his glory (Luke 4:6). Jesus response is to command Satan to depart and say you are to worship God alone. 

Mat 4:8:

  • “very high mountain”: could have been on the other side of Jordan because that’s where Christ is after the temptation (John 1:28). It could have been mount Pisgah where Moses, in communion with God, had all the kingdoms of Canaan shown to him.

  • “showed him” People are often tempted to sin after seeing something. Here are a few examples: Gen 3:6, Mat 5:29, 2 Sam 11. Can you think of any more?

Mat 4:9:

  • “I will give you all of these things”: The devil seems to treat Jesus as just a man since He didn’t prove to the devil to be the son of God by giving in to his previous temptations. The nations of the earth had long been promised to the Messiah and if Jesus is the Son of God then they belong to Him (Daniel 7:13-14). Furthermore, we will inherit all things as brothers of Christ (Rev 21:7). Matthew Henry says: “Note, We must take heed of receiving even that which God hath promised, out of the devil’s hand; we do so when we precipitate the performance, by catching at it in a sinful way.”

  • “bow down and worship me” All the worship which pagans performed was to the devil (Deu 32:17) who is therefore called the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4, 1 Cor 10:20). 

    • Idolatry is devil worship: 1 John 2:16. 

    • Those who practice idolatry will have sorrows multiplied (Psalm 16:4) and will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). 

    • As a judgement, God gives people over to their sinful passions when they engage in idolatry (Romans 1:23) and makes them spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb just like worthless idols (Psalm 135:15-18).

Mat 4:10: 

  • go away Satan” “with abhorrence and detestation”(Matthew Henry)” Jesus replies to the Devil. It is so abominable at the first sight that it is immediately rejected. “Go serve other gods” must not be heard with patience (Deut 13:6-8). Some temptations have their wickedness written in their forehead, they are open before-hand; they are not to be disputed with but rejected (Proverbs 26:4-5).

  • “it is written thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shall you serve” This includes Jesus who is also God: John 5:23

  • God is not passionless about idolatry and we shouldn’t be either: Jeremiah 7:18 (anger), Judges 10:14 (sarcasm).

  • We should hate what the Lord hates and expose evil works (Ephesians 5:11, Romans 12:9)

    • gotquestions says about what Got hates: “The Bible clearly teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). God spared wicked Nineveh, bringing them to repentance (Jonah 3). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32). He is patient to an extreme, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). This is all proof of love—God wants what is best for His creation. At the same time, Psalm 5:5 says about God, “You hate all evildoers” (ESV). Psalm 11:5 is even harsher: “The wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.”. Before a person repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he is the enemy of God (Colossians 1:21). Yet, even before he is saved, he is loved by God (Romans 5:8)—i.e., God sacrificed His only begotten Son on his behalf. The question then becomes, what happens to someone who spurns God’s love, refuses to repent, and stubbornly clings to his sin? Answer: God will judge him, because God must judge sin, and that means judging the sinner. These are the “wicked” whom God hates—those who persist in their sin and rebellion, even in the face of the grace and mercy of God in Christ.

Mat 4:11:

  • then the devil left him” This is the end of these temptations. We can end these temptations by the Devil as well: 1 Cor 10:13. The devil failed at his attempts to tempt Christ and also left at Christ’s command. The Devil will in fact flee from us if we resist him (James 4:7). 

  • “angels came and ministered to him” Matthew Henry says that the angels stood at a distance so that Jesus would claim the victory on His own and then afterward came to minister to Him. “Ministering” to him might include bringing Him food, praise, or receiving commands. God uses the angels to give glory to Himself in Revelation 12:7-12. This is not because God needs the angels but “because he is pleased to honor them so far as to employ them”. This isn’t empty speculation on Matthew Henry’s part. As a man of the Word, Matthew Henry points out that Elijah was fed by angels in the wilderness (1 Kings 19:4-9). 

CONCLUSION: Christ is able to sympathize in our weaknesses yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Likewise, when we are tempted and overcome, we can disciple others and sympathize in their weaknesses. As C.S. Lewis says: 

“Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”

As Martin Luther says in  The Freedom of a Christian (1520):

“[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians....”

Here are some verses: 1 Corinthians 11:1, John 13:15, 1 John 2:6, Luke 6:40, Romans 8:29