Summary: Satan’s intention in the temptation was to make Jesus sin and frustrate God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.
From the River to the Wilderness
Satan’s intention in the temptation was to make Jesus sin and frustrate God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. God’s purpose in the temptation was to prove Jesus is His Son, sinless and a worthy Savior.
Immediately after the heavens were open Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Satan’s intent was to make Jesus commit a sin so that God’s plan for the redemption of mankind would be defeated by disqualifying Jesus as the Savior.
We must never forget great privileges and tokens of God’s favor will not exempt us from being tempted. After great honors that have been put on us and blessings we must expect something that is humbling; as Paul has a messenger of Satan sent to buffer him, after he had been in the third heavens. When temptations come our way God prepares His people for the temptation before He will permit it to come upon us. The best preparation is the assurance we are a child of God’s. If the Holy Spirit witness to our adoption, that will furnish us with an answer to all the suggestions of the evil spirit, designed either to correct us or silence us.
After we have been admitted into the communion of God, we must expect to be set upon by Satan. This is the time a convert must be more aware of Satan’s intent. When God calls us for a special purpose in His harvest Satan will attack us as he did Jesus. The place where the temptation of Jesus occurred was probably in the great wilderness of Sinai, where Moses and Elijah fasted forty days. There was no part of the wilderness of Judah that fit Mark’s description of the wilderness the Holy Spirit led Jesus into.
After He was baptized Jesus didn’t go to Jerusalem but into the wilderness. In the wilderness the tempter has the advantage. Though solitude is a friend to a good heart, yet Satan knows how to use it against us. Those who have shut themselves up in dens and deserts under the pretence of sanctity and devotion find that they are not out of reach of their spiritual enemies. Satan was given the advantage to make Jesus’ victory more illustrious. Satan was given the advantage because there was nothing in Jesus as there is in us. Therefore we must always pray not to be led into temptation and must keep away from those things that Satan can use to tempt us. When we are tempted we must not rely on our strength but the strength of the Holy Spirit.
We must be careful and not enter into temptation. But if God, by his providence, order us into circumstances of temptation for our testing, we must not think it strange, but trust the Lord and all shall be well. If we presume upon our own strength, and tempt the devil to tempt us, we provoke God but, wherever God leads us, He will go along with us, and we shall be more than conquerors we shall be over comers.
Jesus was led to be tempted by the devil and by the devil only. We are tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust. Our Lord Jesus had no corrupt nature, and therefore he was led securely, without any fear or trembling, as a champion into the field of the battle. Our Lord Jesus submitted to the temptation because He would humble Himself in all things to make Himself like us.
There can be no conquest without a combat. Jesus was tempted, that He might overcome the tempter. Satan tempted the first Adam, and triumphed over him; but he shall not always triumph, the second Adam shall overcome him. This should be comforting to us when we are tempted. In the temptation of Jesus the enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring, but he is not invincible. Though he is a strong opponent the Captain of our salvation is stronger. When we are tempted we draw out strength from Him. We have a High Priest who knows, by experience, what it is to be tempted. He is touched by our infirmities in our hour of temptation (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). It is comforting to know Jesus defeated the tempter for us. The enemy we struggle against is a conquered disarmed enemy.
Jesus was prepared for the battle in the wilderness. He fasted forty days and forty nights as did Moses the great lawgiver and of Elias, the great reformer, of the Old Testament. John the Baptist came as Elias, in those things that were moral, but not in such things as were miraculous (John 10:41); that honor was reserved for Jesus. Jesus didn’t need to fast to subdue corrupt desires. He fasted that He might humble Himself, and might seem as one abandoned, that he might give Satan both occasion and advantage against him; and so make His victory over him the more illustrious. That He might sanctify and recommend fasting to us, when God in his providence calls us to fast or when we are in a crisis or as a means of keeping the body under control.