Summary: in this sermon we analyze the temptation of Jesus and learn how Jesus responded to temptation and how we should respond to temptation.
Jesus began his public ministry when he was about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23). One of the most significant events in the life of Jesus took place immediately following his baptism, namely his being tempted by the devil. Luke tells us about the temptation of Jesus at the beginning of chapter 4.
Let’s read about the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13:
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. (Luke 4:1-13)
Throughout world history there have been many epic battles. One can think of World War I, World War II, the Civil War (or, as some say, the War Between the States), and so on. There have also been some epic battles between individuals, such as David and Goliath. I am sure you can name many other epic battles as well.
However, all of these battles pale in significance to the supreme epic battle between Jesus and Satan.
Satan, who is also called “the devil” in the Bible, was a holy angel created by God. However, he rebelled against God because he wanted to make himself like the Most High God (Isaiah 14:14). As a result of his sin, Satan was cast out of heaven, along with one third of the angels, who had joined Satan in his rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4).
Some time after God created Adam and Eve, Satan succeeded in tempting them to sin against God. The result of Adam’s fall is that all of his descendants—with the exception of Jesus—come now into this world in slavery to sin and Satan.
However, God determined to save a multitude of sinners. His plan was to send his Son, Jesus, to save sinners by means of his perfect obedience to God. But Satan was determined to thwart God’s plan of salvation. So he tempted Jesus to sin. And apart from the epic battle between Jesus and Satan during the passion week leading up to his crucifixion, there is no other battle as epic as the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13.
So, let’s examine the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13.
An analysis of the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13 will show us how to respond to temptation.
I. The Setting (4:1-2)
First, let’s look at the setting of the temptation.
Luke recorded the baptism of Jesus in Luke 3:21-22, which took place in the Jordan River. During his baptism God the Father publically voiced his approval of Jesus and said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (3:22).
Then, immediately following his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness (4:1).
Now, it is extremely important to keep in mind the nature of Jesus’ incarnation. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He had two natures (one divine and one human) in one body. However, during his incarnation “he placed the exercise of his divine knowledge and power under the discretion of God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:5–11).” Jesus had to obey God as a man in order to secure salvation for sinners. If he obeyed his Father as God, which of course he could not do otherwise, he would not by that means have secured salvation for sinners.