Summary: This message examines the significance of Jesus’ temptations.
Contrary to the message of many popular television preachers, the Bible does not promise health and prosperity. What we are promised is that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Perhaps it would be better stated this way; we are involved in an all out war. Satan our archenemy is actively involved in carrying out His sinister strategy to separate us from our Heavenly Father. He has been aggressively tempting people to turn away from God since the first woman listened to his lies in the Garden of Eden. The interesting thing is that after all these years Satan is still using the same methods. He tempted Eve in the garden, Jesus in the wilderness and he actively tempts us in our daily lives. His temptations generally come in one of three areas: physical needs and desires, possessions and power and pride. In our text we see Satan and Jesus going head to head. Satan is offering Jesus a crown without a cross and a kingdom without human suffering. We need to notice that Satan is not trying to distract Jesus from His mission, but merely offering Him a shortcut. He is basically telling Jesus that there is an easier way to accomplish God’s plan. None of what Satan offers is within the boundaries of God’s will. Just as in the battle presented in our text, the stakes in our battle with Satan are high. As we look at our text today we will discover some valuable lessons for winning the battle against temptation.
I. Satan launches three aggressive attacks against Jesus.
A. Satan first challenges Jesus to use His power to take care of His physical needs.
1. Satan makes his first calculated attack when Jesus is weak and undoubtedly hungry from fasting for forty days.
2. On the surface this seems to be quite innocent, “wouldn’t God expect us to use our resources to care of our physical needs?” “What’s wrong with feeding your starving body?”
3. This is quite different from just going down to the local store and buying a sandwich. Satan is encouraging Jesus to use His divine power for personal gain by miraculously turning stones into bread.
4. This temptation is quite overpowering, when you are hungry it is hard to think of anything else. Hunger has often drove people to steal in order to have this need satisfied.
5. This naturally raises a question, “what is more important compliance to God’s will or providing for your own physical needs?”
6. The bottom line is that Satan is trying to get Jesus to trust His own ability instead of trusting God as the provider and sustainer of life.
B. Satan’s second challenge is for Jesus to use His position to gain for Himself approval or attention.
1. Satan now tries to get Jesus to test God’s protective care by leaping from the highest point of the temple which was around 450 feet above the ground. This would have been the portico of Solomon’s porch which overlooked the Kidron Valley.
2. Satan is challenging Jesus to test God’s promise that is given in Psalm 91:11-12. This almost seems like he wants Jesus to base His loyalty to God upon the condition of God acting in a certain way.
3. It is quite alarming to realize that Satan knows Scripture as well as knowing how to use it to accomplish his purposes.
4. Think about the implications of Satan’s challenge. If Jesus suddenly appeared on the pinnacle of the temple and then jumped and then was safely set upon the ground by God’s angels wouldn’t that remove any doubts about Him being the Messiah?
5. However, Jesus answers Satan’s challenge by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
6. Jesus shows that His faithfulness to God is not dependent upon God protecting Him from all harm. Especially in these situations that our manufactured in order to manipulate God.
C. Satan’s third challenge is for Jesus to worship him in order to gain power.
1. Satan saves the temptation which is most obviously contrary to God’s will for last.
2. Satan offers Jesus authority over the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Him bowing before Satan in worship.
3. Psalm 2:6-8 shows that this authority is promised to the Son but would only be realized through that lowly path of service which led to the cross.
4. Satan is basically telling Jesus that He can have wealth and power now without having to deal with all the unpleasantness of the cross.
5. This temptation is seen so often in the get it now mentality. Satan promises wealth, health and prosperity in exchange for our allegiance.
6. All the temptations involved a choice between God and Satan. After successfully resisting all the temptations, Jesus dismisses Satan by saying, “away from me.”