Summary: One of the most difficult things for a Christian is to resist temptation. Satan brings temptations to us and tries to make it easy and logical for us to fulfill legitimate needs. Jesus shows us just how crafty he is, and how to resist.
We love the great times, don’t we? The times when we feel God’s Spirit flowing through us and when others recognize the Lord in us and rejoice. Wouldn’t it be great if every day was like the baptism of Jesus—with the Spirit of God descending like a dove on us and God telling us He is pleased with us? Immediately following that experience, Jesus was driven by the same Spirit into the wilderness to be tested and tempted. He got hungry and thirsty, he was tired, and in the midst of it all comes this very wily creature trying to trip him up when he is at his worst! Sounds a lot like where we live our lives all the time. We wonder where God is and why life is so hard and why it is so difficult to serve God in the midst of all this temptation to model ourselves after this age.
Temptations are Satan’s shortcuts and they are his main weapon. They attempt to alter your perception of reality to make a choice in what seems to be your short term interest, but not in yours or God’s long term benefit. Often we try to hide behind the devil’s temptations: “the devil made me do it.” In this fallen world the reality is we do just find finding and falling into temptations all on our own! I’m so glad Jesus went through this, though, because it gives us some rich lessons in how to deal with life and temptation!
1 – 2
The same Spirit that led Jesus to be baptized now leads him to be tempted. God allows us to undergo trial and temptation, not to discourage us, but to prove His power in us. God didn’t send Jesus into the desert to see if He was ready to be Messiah, but to show the Devil that He was the Messiah.
Satan wanted Jesus to do God’s will by his means, which is often what our temptations are like as well. The Devil tempted Jesus in three critical areas: physical needs and desires, power and possessions, and pride.
Note something though, Jesus was physically weak, but Satan could not weaken Jesus spiritually.
2 Cor 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
3 – 4 Making our needs more important than God’s design.
Satan wanted Jesus to satisfy His own needs using His divine power. It seems simple and innocent. Satan didn’t doubt Jesus’ Sonship, but wanted Him to use that power in a way other than the mission God had sent Him on. Later Jesus would make baskets of bread, but for others, not solely for Himself.
Jesus didn’t discuss the sin as Eve had done in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). He quotes Deuteronomy 8:2-3. Jesus knew nothing was more important than the Father’s mission, even food and water. In order to fulfill that mission, Jesus had to completely rely on the Father and completely be human, only using his powers when the Father told Him to.
5 – 7 Doing things your way and expecting God to come along.
The pinnacle of the temple was the highest place in Jerusalem, the city where the Messiah was expected to arrive. In tempting Jesus in this way, Satan was trying to get Him to declare Himself the Messiah too quickly. Or it’s possible that this temptation tried to test the relationship between Jesus and the Father. It would place a little bit of doubt for Jesus to have to “prove” that God would come through. Do we trust in God so completely that we don’t need to ask for “proof” of His love?
Psalm 91 doesn’t mean we will never fall into harm, it means that we will be able to do what God has called us to do without the mission being compromised by the enemy. This would have been an artificially created crisis and not God’s will.
Jesus again quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16. The section talks about the failure of Israel at the waters of Massah (Exodus 17:1-7). There the people were thirsty and doubted whether God was among them. Jesus didn’t doubt His relationship with God and so had no need to test Him.
8 – 11 Attempting to accomplish good things through the wrong means.
Satan’s temptation was one of expedience. The offer itself was not evil, and in fact, Satan does control the kingdoms of the world (as much as God allows him to). In Luke, Satan’s words are: “To you I will give all their glory and all this authority for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please” (Luke 4:6).