This story, in its place here, is commentary on the affirmation in the story of Jesus' baptism that he was the child of God (Matt. 3:17). Now, we begin to understand what the author meant by that title. He meant that Jesus was the one who had his priorities straight, who knew the true heart of the scriptures, and who had the power to order the devil to worship and serve God alone. So, we better pay attention, the author is telling us. This story is important.
The author thus uses the story to teach three fundamental points: first, focus on what matters in life, which is not finances or pleasure; second, don't mess around with God esp. by using scripture in ways it wasn't intended to be used; and, third, give your first and ultimate allegiance to God, the Beyond that is Present. In other words, for the first time in the gospel Jesus is here presented as our model for what it means to be his follower. The story was just as much about Matthew's audiences as it was about Jesus, otherwise it wouldn't even be here. We are pretty much convinced that we still need to hear the same message today, which is:
- Focus on what matters.
- Be humble about trying to live according to that focus, including be humble in the use of scripture.
- Put trust in That which is worthy of trust and then live according to that trust.