Scripture’s Sufficiency Demonstrated by Christ
One more passage will suffice for the purposes of this introductory chapter. While we have seen Scriptures’ sufficiency celebrated by David and declared by Paul, we now find it demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just prior to the start of his earthly ministry, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15) and, coming up from the water, in an incredible trinitarian moment, the Father spoke, the Spirit descended, and the Son was confirmed and endowed with power (vv. 16–17). However, instead of a celebration or coronation for this long-awaited King, Jesus is immediately “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (4:1). While having the undivided attention of the adversary is a daunting enough thought for all who read this text, Matthew ups the ante in verse 2 when he discloses that “Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights” before the trial proper actually began.1
From a human standpoint, Jesus was in a vulnerable state and it’s in his seemingly diminished condition that “the tempter came” (v. 3) and began to entice the Lord to act independent of the Father’s will for him. First, he tempted Jesus with his personal desire for food: “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (v. 3).
Second, Satan tempted Jesus to reveal himself to national Israel as God’s Son, taking him to the top of the temple in Jerusalem and challenging him: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’; and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’” (v. 6).
Third and finally, the devil takes Jesus to a mountaintop view of all the kingdoms of the world. From those great heights he tempts the Lord with a universal throne: “All these things I will give you, if you fall down and worship me” (v. 9).
Three temptations were laid before an emaciated and alone Jesus. He was offered bread, something all people need. He was offered recognition for who he really was, something that would inevitably occur. He was offered the kingdoms of the world, something the Messiah will eventually possess. Yet, none of these, at that particular time, was the will of the Father for the Son and, thus, they were rightly resisted.
His Weapon of Choice
But now we notice how they were resisted and how the enemy was thwarted: with Scripture and Scripture alone. Jesus, in response to each individual temptation, reacted similarly: “It is written … On the other hand, it is written … Go, Satan! For it is written …” (vv. 4, 7, 10). Each time, Jesus finds shelter in God’s word. “The Lord’s response to Satan’s attack in the Judean Wilderness consisted exclusively of one thing—God’s written revelation.”2
Jesus submits himself to the Father and the Father’s revealed will for his Messiah in his word, leaning on the truth that nothing physical can truly sustain man, but only “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (v. 4). For Christ, in the throws of temptation, Scripture was enough.
1 “As true man, He felt the intensity of physical and emotional need, experientially learning the limitations and basic drives of the human experience. Through this, He became an intercessor who feels and understands our struggles.” Ed Glasscock, Matthew: Moody Gospel Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1997), 83.
2 John Adams Tucker, “Do We Really Hold Scripture to be Sufficient?,” in Dispensationalism Tomorrow and Beyond: A Theological Collection in Honor of Charles C. Ryrie, ed. Christopher Cone (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2008), 192.