Summary: There are some people who would dismiss the account of the temptation of Jesus. Some would call it complete fiction, the result of an imaginative journey. But whatever is said about it, the events are necessary. If we are to make sense out of the life
There are some people who would dismiss the account of the temptation of Jesus. Some would call it complete fiction, the result of an imaginative journey. But whatever is said about it, the events are necessary. If we are to make sense out of the life of Jesus. It represents an essential step in the line of His life.
For years Jesus had waited in Nazareth, preparing for the task that was before Him. In the moment of His baptism God had assured him. He knew what He had to do, but how? How does He start? What methods does he use? These are the questions that are answered in the temptations.
First we have to be clear in what we mean by temptation. In the New Testament the word means to test rather than to tempt. The Gospels are unanimous when they say that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. Are we to think the Holy Spirit was to tempt Jesus? Rather the Holy Spirit led Jesus to be tested. Temptation is always a testing; it is not meant to make man fall. It is meant to try him so that out of that situation he will emerge stronger and finer and purer, like metal that is tested in fire.
The temptation story is a story of a person that was aware he possessed special powers, and was faced with the question of how to use these powers.
When we think of the temptations we must not think of merely external terms. We must think about what is happening in the heart. Obviously there would be nothing wrong with turning stones into bread. But, that is not the issue. The issue is what was going on in the innermost being of Jesus. A struggle of the heart and mind.
And think about this… Jesus was there by himself. There was no one else who could have recorded these events. Sometime with the disciples he told them about the wilderness. Perhaps taking the time to teach them and help them to understand, to strengthen them.
So, Then Jesus had come to the all-important moment when He had to choose how he would approach the work which God had given Him to do.
Matt. 4:3 The first temptation was the temptation to turn the stones to bread. What temptation could be more natural to a man who had been fasting for forty days than to satisfy his hunger?
Jesus countered this temptation with the words of the Law – “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Deut. 8:3
Matt. 4:5 In the second temptation Jesus found Himself at the top of the temple. The very highest point.
The outer wall of the Royal Porch rose up 450 feet from the valley below. Josephus tells us that no one could look down from this point without being overcome with dizziness.
If the temptation took place at dawn there would be a throng of expectant people waiting to worship. Jesus would have had a huge audience to witness this miracle. But again Jesus countered temptation with a word from the law. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Deut. 6:16
Matt. 4:8The third temptation Satan tries to strike a bargain with Jesus to worship him and “all these nations will I give you.” Again Jesus counters “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only will you serve.” Deut. 6:13
Now you will notice that in these three temptations Satan is issuing one basic attack. He is trying to get Jesus to distrust Himself.
“If you are the Son of God” he begins. (emphasis mine) If Satan can get Jesus to doubt his call, question himself and his ability. Who ever thought of a penniless, uneducated, Galilean carpenter be the Messiah? The Messiah would not starve in the wilderness. The Messiah would die on a cross.
This attack failed because Jesus was so sure of His call and His relationship with God.
Jesus would not selfishly use His powers for Himself by turning stones to bread. And, He would not attempt to win men over by bribing them with gifts, and material things.
Jesus would not attempt to dazzle men with sensationalism by throwing Himself from the temple. He knew that today He could win men over, but tomorrow there would have to be another trick. Then another. His followers would drift and dwindle awy unless He offered more and more marvels.
Finally the temptation to worship Satan is a temptation to compromise. It was as if Satan told Jesus that if you would not set your standards quite so high, “If you follow me I will make sure men would still worship you.” But for Jesus there could no compromise. Nothing less than completely subject to God and His will.