Summary: Our immediate reaction to a heartache, or a successful achievement that took years to overcome, must be one of getting ready for the next hurdle. If you don’t have any hurdles to jump in your life – if there aren’t any goals set for you right now – if yo

The Purpose of Temptation

Chris Smith

Matthew 4:1-2

Oscar Wilde once said that he could resist everything except temptation.

An old cartoon had the two characters looking at each other with a caption below them saying, “How come opportunity knocks only once, but temptation beats the door down everyday?”

That’s a good question. There are a lot of questions about temptation. Most of them are good ones.

When I was younger, and struggling with the worldly lifestyle I was living; I used to ask Christians, “If God wants us to obey Him, then why does He make it so easy for us to disobey?” Maybe you have an “If God, then why” question of your own.

If we understand the setting of these verses of scripture, and see if we can find out why the Son of God had to go through trials and temptations, then I believe that we will be able to see the purpose of our own trials and tests, and receive encouragement this morning knowing that the toughest times in our lives can be the most meaningful and rewarding.

The closing verse of chapter three gives us two significant clues as to who Jesus is, and what He was doing on earth. Matt 3:17 says, “and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.’”

“This is my beloved Son” is a quote from Psalm 2:7 that every Jew knows is a prophecy describing the coming Messiah.

“In whom I am well pleased” is a quote from Isaiah 42:1. And this is a description of God’s Suffering Servant – a description which goes on all the way to Isaiah 53 and ends with the phrase in verse 12, “He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.”

When Jesus identified Himself with humanity at His baptism and the people heard the Words of His Father in Heaven, everyone was assured of two things. First, that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah. Two, that He would die for the sins of the world. On one hand, He was to be their King. On the other, His throne would be a cross that they themselves would eventually prepare.

Jesus, the suffering servant, the Messiah, the son of God, had come to seek and to save that which was lost. His mission was incredible. He was to draw mankind to Himself, and then allow Himself to be crucified in their place so that all of His people would be able to receive eternal life.

Now, Jesus is a human being as much as He is God. He became human so that he could be that spotless lamb that the Jews had to sacrifice so often to remind them about the penalty for their sin. Only the shed blood of a perfect human being would pay the final penalty for sin. And since there are no perfect humans, then God, wanting all along to purify His people and spend eternity with them, would have to supply the sacrifice. His Son, Jesus would go in their place. God the Son became flesh.

There are many things that Jesus did to show us that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. As we continue in the days to come in the book of Matthew, we will see astonishing events, amazing miracles, and compassion for people beyond any of our capabilities. But one of the things that He did that appeals more to our humanity than anything else was His willingness to suffer and obey the Father in the face of temptation.

The Temptation of Christ [as it is known today] was absolutely necessary. It was necessary for two extremely important reasons.

First, the man Jesus had to learn to depend on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God already spoken. He had to be tested and proven. He had to be tried. He had to be strengthened.

The Bible tells us that at the age of twelve He was already learning. Jesus was born a baby. He had to grow up. He had to learn. Jesus didn’t cheat and use His divinity. Being like us meant he had to go through everything we do. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

But secondly, it was necessary for Him to be tested and tried as no other human being was to show His fellow man He was worthy to claim leadership as the Messiah. It would have been impossible for any other man to be tempted by and to withstand these temptations. After all, who here would be tempted to turn stones into bread if they were hungry?

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