Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness. – Luke 4:1 NASB
This passage outlines three different temptations that Jesus was subjected to. It has always fascinated me that this circumstance in Jesus' life was Spirit-directed. In other words, the very Spirit of God led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted. It was part of God's divine plan. Yet how many times do I reject times of testing and difficulty as being out of God's plan for me. Am I greater than the Messiah Himself? Am I somehow exempt from trials, temptations, and testings? Probably not.
But it is interesting to see what Jesus was led into by the Spirit. After 40 days of fasting, Jesus has an encounter with Satan himself. This wasn't any second-string demon. It was the great deceiver. And he personally brought three specific temptations just for Jesus. Each has ties to the Old Testament.
Temptation #1: Turn the rock into bread Passage: Deut. 8:1-3 Meaning: God wanted the Israelites to remember how he took care of them during their 40 years in the wilderness.
Satan was tempting Jesus to provide for Himself. In the devil’s estimation, the only reason for loyalty to God is if He meets all your needs. If He cannot or will not, meet them yourself. To gratify His own desires would have been to abandon the will of God for His own will. And that is the temptation Satan throws at each of us every day. Provide for yourself. Meet your own needs. Satisfy your own desires – your own way.
Temptation #2: Worship Satan Passage: Deut. 6:12-14 Meaning: God wanted the Israelites to remember to fear and worship Him only because of all He had done for them.
In this temptation, Satan was appealing to Jesus to promote Himself by throwing Himself off a 600 ft. pinnacle. What a way to get attention?
Jesus stands on the watch-post which the white-robed priest has just quitted. Fast the rosy morning light, deepening into crimson, and edged with gold, is spreading over the land. In the Priest’s Court below Him the morning sacrifice has been offered. The massive Temple gates are slowly opening, and the blast of the priest’s silver trumpets is summoning Israel to begin a new day by appearing before their Lord. Now then let Him descend, heaven-born, into the midst of the priests andpeople. What shouts of acclamation would greet His appearance! What homage of worship would be His! The goal can at once be reached, and that at the head of believing Israel. – Alfred Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah
It would have surely led to the immediate acclaim of the people. It would have accomplished God’s ultimate will, but not His way. God would exalt Christ, but only after His crucifixion and resurrection. Satan wants us to get ahead of God. He wants us to focus all the attention on us instead of God's bigger plan. God will glorify us, but in His time and according to His plan, not ours.
Temptation #3: Leap off the pinnacle Passage: Deut. 6:16 Meaning: Don’t test the Lord. The Israelites had doubted that God would take care of them and tested Him.
In this final temptation, Satan teased Jesus with the idea to plan for himself. Satan promised to give Jesus the throne God had promised but without having to go through the pain of the cross. The kingdoms of this earth were to be rightfully His, but not by this plan. The worship of Satan takes place when we willingly disobey God. How often do we attempt to accomplish God’s will our way? We are reacting to our own lusts, desires, and selfish impulses.
- The temptation is not evil in and of itself. Our Lord was ‘spirit led’ to be tempted. What Satan meant as a temptation, God used as a test. While Satan seeks to cause the saint to fail, God strives to bring about greater faith. Temptation is a part of God’s program in the lives of the saint for his growth, and His glory
- The temptation of Christ proved Him qualified for His work on the cross. Only a sinless, spotless ‘Lamb of God’ could take upon Himself the sin of the world.
- The temptation of our Lord prepared Him to be a merciful High Priest.
- The temptation of Christ was a test of submission. Underlying the entire temptation was a solicitation to set aside submission to the Father and act independently of God.
- Because our Lord could not sin, He bore the burden of the temptation to the full. When Adam was created, he was made able not to sin. When Christ, the last Adam, was begotten, He was not able to sin. Some have concluded that the impeccability of Christ would diminish the victory of our Lord over Satan, but, in fact, it intensified the victory.
Father, thank You that Jesus was tempted, but never gave in to the temptation. He was tempted, yet without sin. And it is because of His sinlessness that we have forgiveness. Thank You for reminding me that I can be Spirit-led and sorely-tested. It is in the trials and tests that I am forced to lean on the indwelling power of Your Spirit. Thank You for that inexhaustible resource. Amen
Ken Miller Grow Pastor & Minister to Men firstname.lastname@example.org