Summary: Jesus’ obedience led to our salvation an is a pattern for when we are tempted.

4/3/01 6 p.m. Luke 4:1-13 Lent 1 ( Romans10:8b-13)

4 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." 4 Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone.’" 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours." 8 Jesus answered, "It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’" 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: " `He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" 12 Jesus answered, "It says: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.


Jesus had just been baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit. This was the start of Jesus’ public ministry and the confirmation that he is God’s Son and the Messiah. We now come to the temptation of Jesus.

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

Why did God the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil ?

There are two factors to be born in mind here.

The people of Israel were supposed to be holy and to demonstrate the love of God to the world. They failed. One of the places that they failed was in the desert after they had been led out of Egypt by Moses. They were tested there for forty years and only two Israelites passed that test and entered the Promised Land.

So Jesus was led into the desert because it was a place of testing, and to show how it should be done in comparison to the Israelites.

Secondly, God does not send temptation or testing times but he does use them to build up our trust in him, and/or to see where our allegiance truly is. Job is an Old Testament example of this. Here the hostility of the devil to Jesus’ ministry is used by God to show not only who Jesus is, but also the kind of ministry that he had come to fulfil.

We should also be aware that temptation is not itself a sin. Giving in is. So we shouldn’t be discouraged when we face temptation but be determined to continue resisting it. The reformer Martin Luther once said, ’ I can’t stop the birds flying over my head, but I can stop them from nesting in my hair.’

He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The people of Israel were in the desert for 40 years. Jesus was there for 40 days. We are now into Lent, a forty day period of reflection and self-denial in preparation for Easter. Jesus gave up food for 40 days before we have this climax of the testing by the devil recorded in verses 3 to 12. Jesus would have been tested by the devil for all of the 40 days, it’s just that we only have the record of the last 3 tests that he put to Jesus. Jesus would have been physically very weak after 40 days without food, and was probably spiritually battered after the devils attacks.

When we think of this we realize that the deprivations that we may take up for Lent, such as giving up chocolate or alcohol, are small in comparison. Jesus temptations were greater than ours. We give in too easily. Once you have given in once it is easier to give in on subsequent occasions.

Imagine your football team is near the bottom of their league. They face relegation for the second year running. They could for the first time in their history decide to bribe a referee or the opposing goalkeeper. It is a momentous step, but they win as a result of their bribe and are not detected. The next time it is easier, and more so the next time until they are out of the relegation zone...

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