Sometimes religious people and Satan are on the same side. Sometimes demons understand things that religious people refuse to accept. In the earliest part of his ministry, Jesus was challenged both by Satan himself and by the religious leaders of his day. He endured the harrowing encounter with the devil in the wilderness and the near fatal resistance of the rulers of the synagogue because he was living his life on a secure foundation – he knew who he was!
Jesus’ identity was not in his ability to perform miracles or in his powerful teaching gift. It was not in the fact that even angels would defy the laws of gravity on his behalf. His identity was in the knowledge that he was a son of his Father and that his Father loved him, and was pleased with him.
Matthew’s account tells us just before Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil; his Father reaffirmed his love at his baptism. “And behold a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (See Matthew 3:13-4:11). Before he did any ministry, teaching, or works of any kind, Jesus was loved by his Father.
Of course, this was not news to Jesus, because he had been in perfect relationship with the Father from eternity past. He knew the Father’s love for him. But in his humanity, and in light of the temptation and difficult ministry that lie ahead, Jesus needed to be refreshed in the understanding that He was a beloved son of his Father.
This one foundation enabled Jesus to step into his calling with confidence. From this knowledge, he could endure temptation and be filled with the power of the Spirit, anointed in his role, teaching with authority, commanding unclean spirits, spreading the kingdom of God everywhere. Satan tried to cast doubt about the truth of our Savior’s identity when he posed this question: “If you are the Son of God…”.
Satan was not alone in his attempt to cast doubt in the Son of God’s mind. Interestingly, we see in Luke’s account that the people of the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth thought him to only to be the son Joseph, their friend, the lowly carpenter from their village. “Is not this Joseph’s son?” they said to him mockingly. Later, when he healed the sick (verses 40-41) demons came out of many people crying out, “You are the Son of God!” The demons knew what the religious people would not see!
Three things we can learn from this chapter:
- Jesus built his life and ministry on the firm foundation that he knew he was a son, beloved and pleasing to his Father.
- We need to see Him for who he is: no ordinary man, but the very son of God in the flesh who can radically change our lives and the lives of those around us.
- Just like Jesus, we too need to know we are beloved, pleasing children of our Heavenly Father. Our identity is sure because we are in Christ. Assurance of our identity as sons is what gives us the power to live an effective and God-pleasing Christian life.
Have you heard him say to you, “You are my child… I love you… I am pleased with you?”