The Temptation of Jesus Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
Title: The Temptation of Jesus
Bible Reading: Matthew 4:1-11
The subject today is the temptation of Jesus, as found in Matthew 4:1-11.
Verse 1 says, “Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.” The word “temptation” is sometimes used to imply a test or trial or it can mean to allure, entice, and lead into evil. Examples are found in the Old and New Testaments:
• Genesis 22:1tells us: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham”; the RSV puts it this way, “After these things God tested Abraham.”
• Matthew 22:18 says; “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?”; the RSV translates it, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?”
• Matthew 22:35 asserts; “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him”; the RSV has “And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him.”
Every person is tempted by someone or something, at some point in their life! Even Jesus was tempted according to Hebrews 2:18 where it says: “Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.” His example, however, provides us with an assurance that we are capable of resisting temptation. And by overcoming temptation, we emerge strengthened in our spirit.
Temptation is an “enticement to sin” that arises from human desires and passions. Enticement may also be from the devil, which is called “the tempter” in Matthew 4:3. The Bible states explicitly that God does not tempt us, but He does allow us to be tested by circumstances and by the devil so that faith might grow. Furthermore, the Lord promises to provide a “way of escape” so that we are not tempted beyond what we are able to bear. James said that when the tempter’s influence is resisted, he must flee. Satan’s strategy for temptation is clearly evident in his dealings with Eve:
First, he questions God’s Word.
Second, he contradicts God by not telling the whole truth.
Third, he distorts and misquotes God’s Word.
These same strategies were at work in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.
The Bible promises that those who withstand life’s temptations will receive “the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). There is no sin in being tempted; since Jesus who was perfect in every way "…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Christ is able to understand our weaknesses, since He Himself has experienced the very same things. No one can truly sympathize with someone else unless he has been through a similar experience himself. As a Man our Lord has shared our experiences and can, therefore, understand the testing which we endure. However, He can’t sympathize with our wrongdoing, because He never experienced it. He was tempted in every respect as we are, and yet He never sinned. It was impossible for Him to sin, either as God or as Man. As the perfect Man, He could do nothing of His own accord; He was absolutely obedient to the Father, and certainly, the Father would never lead Him into sin.
One purpose of the temptation was to demonstrate conclusively that He could not sin. Temptation doesn’t necessitate sinning; since we read that when He was tempted, He was," yet without sin."
There are different degrees of temptation, but not even the worst forms of it involve sin.
Since He never sinned, Jesus could say, “The prince of this world cometh, and have nothing in me” (John 14:30). The Lord knew that the time for His betrayal was approaching and that He would not have much more time to talk with His disciples. Satan was even then drawing near, but the Savior knew that the enemy could find no symptom of sin in Him. There was nothing in Christ to respond to the devil’s evil temptations. It would be ridiculous for anyone else but Jesus to say that Satan could find nothing in him. Satan can find something in you and me, but he could find nothing in the Lord Jesus.
Since Jesus endured the devious temptations from the evil one himself without sinning, it may be beneficial for us to also be tempted. I’ll give you five reasons for why I say that.
• First, it can prove our sincerity, faith, love, and patience. It’s not meant to be proof for others or even for God, but for us; God sees into the heart and He knows if we possess these virtues, but we don’t know until we are put to the test.
• Second, temptation can bring growth, because temptation develops and increases our faith. We grow as we experience God in our lives. We can’t resist the temptations that come to us; we’ll cave-in every time, unless we have help from the Holy Spirit. Experiencing God’s help is what makes our faith grow.
• Third, temptation increases our usefulness. It’s easier to relate to those that have had the same experiences you have. We become able to comfort and warn others when we recognize that they are facing the same temptations we have. They’ll listen to advice from us, because we have walked in their shoes and overcome the same temptation.
• Forth,we can know the thrill of victory. How wonderful it is to overcome the arch-enemy of mankind—the devil!
• Fifth, temptation can bring glory to God. He overcomes Satan by feeble men.
Most of us have never been tempted to jump off a tall building, and very few have ambitions of being crowned king of the known world. So at first glance, the temptations that Satan dangled before Jesus don’t seem to relate to our lives. But if we look a little deeper we see that, although the temptations may be different for us than they were for Him, the choices are still the same. The key is found in Jesus’ response. Each time Satan offered a shortcut to physical satisfaction like turning stones into bread, public adulation from jumping off the Temple, or worldly power and wealth from having all the kingdoms of the world; Jesus responded by quoting God’s word.
Jesus saw His choice clearly: Take the easy road offered by the one who desired His destruction, or obey the Father and trust that God’s way, although sometimes longer and more costly, is the way to joy and peace. When Satan tempts you with a shortcut to pleasure, popularity, or power, remember that in every temptation there is a lie—disobeying God doesn’t bring us the satisfaction it promises.
Remember, too, that God’s word is the key to fighting temptation. When we, like Jesus, make our choice to obey God’s word, Satan will flee and God will meet our deepest needs. Staying away from others will not prevent temptation, in fact, it may even promote it. Remember, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
Neither will fasting and prayer always keep off the tempter; because our Lord had done both. There are several things we will notice as we read out text:
The first thing is; He began the whole series of his temptations by casting doubt on our Lord's Sonship, and giving a crafty quotation from Scripture.
Secondly, he heard the Father's words at our Lord's baptism, and he began tempting as soon as the Father’s witness ended.
And thirdly, he knew how to release a double shot of temptation by introducing doubt and rebellion with questions like; "If thou be the Son of God”.
God had only one Son who was without sin, but he had none without temp¬tation. That’s how Satan shows his hate for the Father; the closer any child is to God, the more Satan will hassle him, and torment him with temptations. No one is as loved as Christ; no one was as tested as He was. Listen now as I read our text:
1 Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.
2 For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry.
3 Then the Devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’ ”
5 Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple,
6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”
8 Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory.
9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’ ”
11 Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.