There’s an obvious connection with Israel’s temptation in the wilderness in this story. Israel experienced “baptism” in the Red Sea, then went into the wilderness for 40 years, while Jesus was baptized by John then went into the wilderness for 40 days. Jesus’ response to the devil with each temptation was to quote from Deuteronomy, the book of the Torah that in many ways summarizes and completes Israel’s wilderness experience.
Israel failed, while Jesus did not.
That, in itself, helps us see the significance of this story. We might be tempted to focus entirely on learning from Jesus how to overcome temptation. That’s not wrong, and we’ll do some of that on Sunday.
But stopping there would be missing something crucial. Jesus went into the wilderness to face and overcome Satan, and he did that because we so often fail. Our final victory (thankfully) isn’t bound up in our ability to win all temptation battles, though as we follow Christ he empowers us to overcome. Our ultimate victory is based on the fact that Jesus defeated Satan, though . . . not only here in the wilderness, but most importantly on the pivotal battlefield of Golgotha that this story foreshadows.