The Temptation of Jesus
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Dear Family & Friends,
Temptation is an avenue by which even the wisest of human beings encounter pitfalls. No one is exempt from this earthly struggle. It comes in many ways and forms. But just because a person finds himself facing this dilemma does not mean he will end up in the pit. There is a way around the snare and Jesus, God’s Son, demonstrated the weapon needed to overcome. The temptation of Jesus helps us know how to be victorious in our own tests.
Courage for Difficult Times
I often find it easier to go through a struggle when I know of someone else who has prevailed in a similar situation. I remember feeling very nervous before giving birth to my first child. I had heard all of the horror stories about hours and hours of excruciating labor and my heart quaked thinking of what was ahead. But then I comforted myself as I considered my closest friends who had done this and had even gone on to have more than one child. If they could do it, then I could too!
Matthew gives us a snapshot of the temptation of Jesus. He had just been baptized by John the Baptist and God, His heavenly Father, had affirmed Him to the world with the words, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” But as is so often the case after an uplifting experience, Jesus found Himself in the wilderness, led there by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.
Help for Temptation
The author of the book of Hebrews points to Jesus as encouragement to hold firmly to our faith in difficult times because He is able to empathize with our weaknesses having been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14-15). The Spirit led Jesus to this wilderness and allowed Him to go through the ropes of human temptation so we would have an example to look to when we face our own enticements.
Not only did Jesus face strong temptations from the devil, He faced them in a weakened state. After fasting for forty days and forty nights the tempter brought up what God had pronounced at His baptism earlier and pressed Jesus to prove them. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “then tell these stones to become bread.” Satan capitalized on Jesus’ extreme hunger and tried to push Him to step outside of God’s will by acting apart from the Spirit’s leading.
Ways to Escape Temptation
But God promises that there is a way of escape when faced with temptation and Jesus expertly responded to Satan’s ploy by quoting Scripture. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The devil was not finished, so next he took Jesus to the highest point of the temple where he tried to confuse the situation by also quoting Scripture. ‘Throw yourself down and the angels will catch you and keep you from harm,’ he paraphrased. But again Jesus responded, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The devil then took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give to you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” In a final word of power Jesus ordered Satan away from Him again quoting Scripture. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
In response to this command the devil took his leave and angels came and attended to Jesus’ needs.
The Temptation of Jesus Gives Us Help
All of us will be the recipient of temptation at one time or another, the devil will see to this, but we do not need to fear a bad outcome. Jesus, who walked every avenue of temptation in which we might find ourselves, overcame by depending on God’s strength and by wielding the Scripture with power. In this same way we can navigate the enticements and snares of life.
The temptations will come. The pitfalls are there. But, praise God, we can prevail. If Jesus could do it, then with God’s help and the weapon of the Holy Scriptures, we can do it too!