Summary: A study of the temptation of Jesus Christ, and lessons in perseverance that we can apply in our daily Christian walks.
I’ll admit it.
I was this close to titling this article “The Temptation of Jesus, and Why We’re All Wussies”.
Luckily, cordiality and meekness won out, and so we have been left with the current title of this piece.
Still, the main point stands. In comparison to Christ, we are an extraordinarily weak, shortsighted, and impatient people. So often we fall into the trap of expecting life as a follower of Christ to be an easygoing and leisurely affair. Then, when hardship comes our way, we are left shrugging our shoulders and scratching our heads.
This is so pronounced in Western Christianity that we even have entire ministries built around the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” movement.
(Note: I will not be discussing the flaws found in such ministries in this article. But, stick around for awhile. I promise, I won’t be able to bite my tongue for long.)
But, what does the Word of God say?
If you would, please join me in this verse by verse study of Christ’s temptation as it is found in Luke 4:1-15. I will be using the ESV Bible as my primary reference, but you can feel free to use whichever translation most suits you.
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jesus Begins His Ministry
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
First Lesson: You have the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that enabled Christ to resist Satan.
Firstly, let’s examine the setting of this event in Jesus’ life. Looking back at Luke 3:21-22, we find that the episode immediately preceding Jesus’ temptation was his baptism:
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Let that sink in for a second.
Right after his baptism, Jesus went out to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan and to starve.
As an illustration, imagine receiving your driver’s license, and immediately joining the Indy Car Series.
Granted, Jesus was no ordinary man. We are talking about the living, breathing, Word of God made flesh here. Also, instead of receiving his driver’s license, he obtained something much more powerful: the Holy Spirit.
Now, none of us can claim that we are the incarnate Word of God, so we are already at a distinct disadvantage. However, we have been given the Holy Spirit, as seen in Acts 2:33:
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
So, while Christ usurps us in authority, we need to realize that the same Spirit given to him at his baptism, he now freely gives to us.
Second Lesson: The Holy Spirit will lead you to do difficult, uncomfortable things. But, the Holy Spirit’s power is also most manifested in your weakness.
Secondly, it is important to look at the question as to why Jesus was in the wilderness. Let’s take a closer look at Luke 4:1-2: