Written by Ekkehardt Mueller
Matthew 4:1 is puzzling. Why would God’s Spirit lead Jesus into temptation? Did God use Satan as his instrument to tempt Jesus?
The first verse of the temptation narrative contains the strange remark that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness in order to be tempted by the devil. Obviously the Spirit is the same “Spirit of God” who had just been mentioned in Matthew 3:16 and who descended on Jesus when he was baptized. This is puzzling. Why would God’s Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, and did God use Satan as his instrument to tempt Jesus? The following suggestion is made: In order to understand Matthew 4:1, one has to recognize that Jesus was not just a kind of second Moses repeating to a certain degree the experience of Moses (Deut 18:15; Acts 3:17-26; John 6:1-15). Jesus also had to cover the ground where Israel had walked. He had to repeat Israel’s experience to gain the victory where historical Israel had failed. The Spirit of God led Jesus in the des