The Temptation of Christ

(Luke 4:1-13)

After receiving the Holy Spirit at the commencement of his ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness and fasted for forty days and nights. After this he was tempted by Satan. In the three temptations that he was tried with we see the key temptations that are common to all of mankind. And we see that the Lord showed us the way to overcome these temptations.

temptation of christPaul wrote that with the temptation we would be given the way of escape that we may be able to endure the temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13) He did not say that we would be able to escape or avoid the temptations, but we would receive the ability to go through it and endure. He also said in this same scripture that God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. This is a great promise for we can take comfort that whatever is thrown against us is not more than we can handle, provided we look to Jesus and put the issue into his hands. He will give us the victory over the temptation.

But back to the temptation of Christ. The first of the temptations was of a physical nature. Hunger. Jesus had just fasted forty days and nights and would have been weak from lack of food and it would have been difficult to go without food. Satan knew the power that Jesus had, but he mocked as he tempted him in his weakness. He said “If you are the Son of God,” as if Satan did not know that Jesus was the Son of God.

Satan was tempting him to use the power of God to create food to overcome his hunger. There are several instances where Jesus did create food; when he fed the five thousand, when he fed the four thousand and when he turned the water into wine. He certainly had the power to be able to do this, but he was not about to show obedience to Satan and he showed that worshipping God is much more important than even food. His response in this temptation as in all of the others was to fight back by using the word of God. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone'” and in the Matthew 4:4 version as well as in the original words in Deuteronomy 8:3, adds, “…but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Here is the way that temptation is to be battled; by using the words of God which we read in our bible. So how will we be able to battle temptation if we do not know the words in the bible? It will be very difficult for it is essential we understand the writings of God to know the way of God. And it is essential that we have the right weapons to defend ourselves against the wiles of the devil and those who are his.

The second temptation Satan threw at the Lord was to offer him riches, power and the glory of man. But to receive it all, Jesus had to bow down to the devil. For us it is important to note that the devil could offer Jesus these things because as he said, “…it has been delivered to me and I give it to whom I will.” (Verse 6) The devil showed that he is the master of this world. All power and authority and glory to do with this world is in the hands of the devil. Why do you think the world is in such turmoil? It is because the prince of darkness rules the world and plays with man to suit his own desires.

Again Jesus defeated this temptation, common to all men, through using the scriptures. He showed that all the glory, riches, power, authority and anything else that man values in this world is worthless, because to seek the things of this world is to seek the things of Satan. The devil would give it all to Jesus if he fell before him, but at what cost? The same too goes for man, at what cost? Is it any wonder that Jesus said how hard it would be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23-24) Jesus quoted scripture again to defeat Satan saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” (Verse 8 )

Finally Satan tempts Jesus with fanaticism. He took to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and told Jesus to throw himself down if he claimed to be the Son of God. Satan used scripture and twisted it to tempt Jesus, just as fanatics and the opponents of Christ will and have done, for Satan said, “…for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (Verse 10-11) How cunning and deceitful are the ways of Satan. His deception often comes in the form of half truths and words that sound OK but when examined in the broader context are deception and evil. This is exactly what he did when he tempted Eve in the garden of Eden using a half truth that convinced her to sin.

But Jesus, aware of the malice and cunning of the devil rebuked him saying, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” (Verse 12) Now Jesus could say this for he was and is the Lord God, but what could we say in the same circumstance? We could say the same thing but we could also quote the scriptures that show you must not put the Lord to the test. (1 Corinthians 10:9, Deuteronomy 6:16)

Now it is often thought that this was the end of the temptations of Christ. This is not so. For example we see that the devil attempted to tempt Jesus through using Peter (Matthew 16:22-23) In fact the three temptations that we see in this section of Luke may well not have been all of them for verse 13 says, “…when the devil had ended every temptation…” which may indicate there were others. But certainly there were others later (as in Peter’s case mentioned) for verse 13 finishes saying the devil departed from Jesus, “…until an opportune time.”

The devil is an opportunist and he does not fight fair. He will seek the times when we are weak to attack us, just as he attacked Jesus when he was in his weakened state. So we must prepare just as Jesus showed us by learning and absorbing the scriptures and the word of God. Then we must seek insight and understanding to be able to use the scriptures in our defence when we are tempted and attacked by the forces of Satan. For Jesus has promised that we will have the victory in the day of temptation if we allow him to fight the good fight and we look to the Lord in our times of need.

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