Long experience had taught the tempter that his most taking baits were those which appealed to the appetites and needs of the body, and so he tries these first.
The tempter quotes the divine voice at the baptism with almost a sneer, as if the hungry, fainting Man before him were a strange ‘Son of God.’ The suggestion sounds innocent enough; for there would have been no necessary harm in working a miracle to feed Himself.
But Jesus answers that bread is not the only means of keeping a man in life, but that God can feed Him, as He did Israel in its desert life, with manna; or, if manna fails, by the bare exercise of His divine will. Therefore Jesus will not use His power as Son of God, because to do so would at once take Him out of His fellowship with man, and would betray His distrust of God’s power to feed Him there in the desert.
This first temptation teaches us much. It makes the manhood of our Lord pathetically true, as showing Him bearing the prosaic but terrible pinch of hunger, carried almost to its fatal point.
It teaches us how innocent and necessary wants may be the devil’s levers to overturn our souls.
It warns us against severing ourselves from our fellows by the use of distinctive powers for our own behoof.
It sets forth humble reliance on God’s sustaining will as best for us, even if we are in the desert, where, according to sense, we must starve; and it magnifies the Brother’s love, who for our sakes waived the prerogatives of the Son of God, that He might be the brother of the poor and needy.
[Excerpt from MacLaren's Expositions]