In the first temptation, Satan was using Jesus’ temporary and immediate circumstances as a reflector. At that point, Jesus’ circumstances were clearly marked by dryness, thirst, cold, wild beasts, and severe hunger; in other words, lack and wretchedness.
He used Jesus’ circumstances as a reflector in the desert to try to alter Jesus’ self- image. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, had been in the desert for forty days and forty nights. He had not eaten for those number of days and He had not had much sleep; so I imagine that Jesus was looking gaunt; He must have emaciated significantly, and must have been looking very skinny. He was neither looking glorious nor glamourous at all. It is quite likely that He looking like a jungle man. He just was not appealing.
In addition, think of where Jesus was. The wilderness was not the best of places. It was a dry, dusty, cold and lonely place; and there you had the most dangerous of wild beasts like hyenas, snakes, and scorpions. The wilderness was a picture of lack. It was an image of wretchedness. It was an epitome of emptiness and dryness.
The Bible said that after forty days of fasting, Jesus was very hungry; and while in the midst of this very negative scenario, the devil showed up. In the midst of the adverse situation that Jesus found Himself, the devil appeared and began to project the circumstances of Jesus to His consciousness.
It would be noteworthy to remember that Jesus’ circumstances hadn’t always been so, and were not going to remain so a few days from that point. He had been led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. His not-so-pleasant situation was just immediate and temporal.
Yet, Satan reflected Jesus’ immediate and temporary circumstances back to Him in order to alter Jesus’ self-image. If he could get Jesus to doubt His Sonship, Satan would then replace that self-image with a distorted version that would allow him to sabotage the mission of Christ.
Not surprisingly, Jesus did not allow his immediate and temporary circumstances to affect how He saw Himself. He knew that appearances don’t last. Circumstances are never permanent.