THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS
Text: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13.
The Gospels relate how, after His baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. The synoptic gospel accounts emphasized that the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted. Matthew rendered it thus: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Mat 4:1) Two of the other synoptic gospel account recorded it in a similar manner. Mark expresses it as “The Spirit drove Him,” while Luke declares He "was led by the Spirit.” Why will God allow the Holy Spirit to lead His only Begotten Son to be tempted? This thought is truly challenging to the mind. What is the significance of Jesus’ temptation in God’s salvation plan? All of these questions will be addressed as we go on in today’s lesson. However, it must be noted that what the gospel writers are not saying, the gospels are not saying
- The significance of Jesus’ temptation in God’s salvation plan
- The temptation of Jesus Christ had its place in God’s scheme of salvation of mankind. Starting from the fall of the first Adam in the Garden of Eden Genesis 3, the devil has continued to hold mankind captive by the power of sin and its reward, death. (Rom 5:12, 14) The description of the severity of sin over man is fearfully described in the scriptures. Paul, the apostle, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes of this in Romans 7:8, 14-24, and pointed out that Jesus Christ is the answer to free us from the captivity of sin. (Rom 8:1-3) Jesus Christ became our High Priest, offering holy and acceptable sacrifice for our sins. To qualify Him for this role, it was important that He can correctly appreciate the weight of the human helplessness before sin so he had to ‘‘sympathize with our weaknesses;’’ pass through temptation in the body; teach us to overcome by practically demonstrating how man in flesh could identify the tricks of Satan’s temptation and overcome in tempting circumstances (Heb 4:14-15). This is so that Jesus Christ may be a worthy comforter to all the faithful (Heb 2:17-18).
- The role of the Holy Spirit in the temptation of Jesus Christ was one of serving as a Comforter. It is the Christian’s guarantee that He will find the power to overcome in tempting situations. The divine plan was being worked out here. It did not just "happen" that Jesus met Satan by accident or unprepared and then got tempted. Neither is it true to say that the devil arranged for the temptation to happen. Jesus Christ temptation was one already in the divine plan of God, and this was the reason for the preparatory role played by the Holy Spirit, after the confirmation to all at the baptism of John, that Jesus is the long expected Messiah (Mat 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit must confirm to us that Jesus is the compassionate High Priest through whom we can overcome Satan’s temptations if we let His word dwell in us. So once again the Holy Spirit was with Jesus through the preparatory forty days and forty nights fasting of Jesus Christ (Mat 4:1-2). He must confront the devil as the victorious second Adam where the first Adam failed (Rom 5:19). The Holy Spirit still helps us today in our prayers. The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered in Romans 8:26-27.
- What is in the temptation of Jesus? (Mat 4:1-11; Mar 1:12, 13; Luk 4:1-13)
The drama in the temptation of Jesus exposes to us that with Satan, there is no new trick. Satan has always used the same tricks of attempting to entice man using man’s own lust (Jam 1:14-15):
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Jam 1:14-15 KJV)
The Contemporary English Version of the Bible rendered ‘lust’ as desires:
“We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. (Jam 1:14-15 CEV)
We will learn from the temptation of Jesus that one key to overcoming a tempting situation is for us to desire God’s will above every other needs and want of the flesh. Let the word dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16 is in agreement with the word of God that teaches that Jesus fought the devil. How are you fighting your temptations?
Learning how Jesus deals with Satan during these three temptations offers great encouragement to us today. In all three temptations, Satan tries to lead Jesus to place His own will above the will of the Father. Indeed, self-centered will is the tap root of every sin. The problem that brought sin into the world in Genesis 3 is when Eve (and later Adam) placed their self-will in opposition to the will of God. Nevertheless, instead of exercising His own will in each of the three temptations, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father. A minister of the gospel once put it in these words:
“quoting the respective three verses from the Old Testament, it was as if He stated, “Here is the will of God, and I am not going to do as you say to rebel against such.” Naturally, the essence of all sin is this.” (WordPress.org. © 2019 Church of Christ Articles Sonar Theme)
As we look at these three temptations, we learn about the true meaning of life. Jesus came into the world to live life at its best. However, Satan tried to lure him away from living life as God intended. Thus, if I want to learn to live life at its best, I can learn from these principles and apply them to my life.
- The first temptation (Matthew4:2-4)
The first temptation attacked the goodness of God. Just as Satan did with Eve “If God is so good, then why is this fruit off-limits?” He attacked the goodness of God with respect to His hunger “If you are hungry and claim that you are the Son of God and that God is good, then why not give in to your urges?” Whenever we find ourselves in difficulties of life, we face the temptation of questioning the goodness of God. “If God is so good, then why am I in this predicament?” Attacking the goodness of God involves the attempt to place the physical above the spiritual. This is the background of most of our temptations today. Most people, for fear of losing daily bread, are losing the battle against Satan, struggling to learn that the meaning of life is more than filling their bellies and this is why Jesus quoted the sacred scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:3-4:
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live. (Deu 8:3 KJV)
And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Mat 4:3-4 KJV)
- The second temptation (Matthew4:5-7)
The second temptation attacked the religion of God. Satan wants to take religion and pervert it, and if he can tempt us to follow a perversion of godly religion, then we have walked right into his trap. Whenever I take religion and turn it around for my own selfish purposes, then I have perverted godly religion. Satan carries Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem to the pinnacle of the temple (Mat 4:5-6). Then, he perverted the quoted scripture from Psalm 91:11. He actually misquoted it to tempt Jesus to pervert godly religion for selfish purposes. Even today many are more of Church goers following selfish purposes and glorifying man rather than God. This is what the main background of denominations and false religions is. People gather every Sunday with the same Bible but practice it in so many different ways. Nevertheless, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:16 to show that religion has to do with more than just the external godly religion but with the right frame of heart:
“"Don't test the LORD your God like you tried to do in Massah.” (Deu 6:16 ISV)
- The third temptation Matthew4:8-10
The third temptation attacked the glory of God. When Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, he included “the glory of them” (Mat 4:8). In other words, Satan is tempting Jesus to seek personal glory over the glory of the Father. This is why Paul wrote, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1Co 10:31). Satan encouraged Jesus to bow down and worship him, and he would receive glory as a political leader of the world. Yet, Jesus challenged Satan by showing that God deserves undivided loyalty and devotion (Deu 6:13). What a challenge for us to worship and serve God properly so that He receives the glory that He deserves.
Thus, Jesus handled all three temptations. His answers were scriptural, from the Book of God, the Bible. His answers were simple; they were not complicated with human traditions and philosophy. His answers were strong, ringing with authority. His answers were sufficient; Satan saw no need to argue them any further. We truly have only “touched the hem of the garment” in dealing with this rich text, but may it continue to teach us lessons that benefit us whenever Satan temptation comes.
We could fall prey to Satan’s deceit today, if we let our life be guided by our lusts (Jas 1:14; 2Pe 2:18), by allowing the influence of the world over the will of God (1Jn 2:15-17), and by the riches of the world (Mat 13:22; 1Ti 6:9)
- Important facts about temptation
- God does not tempt man (Jas 1:13)
- Satan will flee when resisted (Jas 4:7)
- God provides a way of escape from temptation if we depend only on Him (1Co 10:13; Jas 1:12)
- Prayer for strength is needed (Mat 6:13; 26:41; Mar 14:38; Luk 22:46)
- Overcoming temptation produces growth (1Pe 1:5, 6; Jas 1:2-4, 12)
- God delivers the tried (2Pe 2:9; Rev 3:10)
- The weak may fall (Luk 8:13)
- Jesus was tempted as we are (Mat 4:1ff; Heb 2:18; 4:15).
- Jesus aids the tempted (Heb 2:18).
- Some benefits in temptation (James 1:12)
- The trying of your faith worketh patience. (Jas 1:2-3)
- He shall receive the crown of life. (Jas 1:12)
- It helps us draw nearer to God, and He will draw nigh to you (Jas 4:8)
Be guided by the words of God, and you will overcome
“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Pro 6:23)
“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa 119:104-105)