Jesus Tempted - Page 1 (series: Harmony of the Gospels)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Harmony of the Gospels
-AD 27-
(2) Jesus Tempted
(Psalms 91:11) Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13

So far the gospels have shown us that the Son of God came down to the earth to be born a human. He had a normal childhood, except He never sinned. He was baptized to identify Himself with mankind. Now, He has come to the place where He is to be tempted. The word tempt has two meanings:
First: “Incite or entice to evil; seduce.” I was born with a fallen nature that came directly from Adam; therefore, I yield easily to sin. That was not true of Jesus. He did not have a fallen nature, because His father was not a man. John 14:30 says, “…..for the prince of this world cometh, and has nothing in me.” There was nothing in Jesus that Satan could take advantage of or use against Him. Hebrews 7:26, describes Jesus as “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” So the temptation of Jesus had to be different than what would make us fall; it needed to be much greater.

Second: “Test.” God will test men, He will not tempt us. James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”
Now Jesus is to be tempted by Satan. Could He have failed the test? No, He could not! If He could have fallen, then He would not be a sure Savior and God would not be sovereign. Some may ask, “Well if Jesus could not have fallen, was this temptation a legitimate test? It was a legitimate test and He was tempted more than anything you and I will ever experience in our lives. His testing can be compared to the test that is given to a diamond to make sure that it is genuine and not a phony. There is no way a real diamond will fail the test and there was no way Jesus could have failed the test either. He was the real thing. Jesus was tested to demonstrate that He was exactly who He claimed to be.

I will give into temptation, if it is great enough and if the pressure is maintained long enough, and you will too. But that is not the case with Jesus, He never gave in to temptation, even though Satan tempted Him far beyond anything that we will ever experience.
Let’s begin to look at the temptation as it is recorded in the first Gospel.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. (Matthew 4:1)

This verse tells us several things. The Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness. He will be met by the Devil and the Devil is going to tempt Him. So the temptation was not a surprise to Jesus, but He had planned to confront the Devil.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward and hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matthew 4:2-3)

I have only fasted a couple of times in my life and it was for a very short time. So it would be difficult for me to relate to what Jesus went through. It would take a tremendously strong will for Him to deny Himself food for 40 days and it would have had a terrible effect on His physical condition. Remember that Jesus was a man in the physical sense. He did not have any advantage over you and me in that respect. The temptation here is to His flesh. Will He choose to satisfy His hunger?

But he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus’ reply is to quote scripture, “….. That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Matthew 4:5-6)

Now the Devil is quoting scripture. He is quoting Psalm 91:11-12, and it is interesting that he knew that it applied to Jesus. Actually, he did not quote scripture; he misquoted it, because he left out the words, “in all thy ways.” The Devil evidentially changes scripture to suit his own purposes. Verse 11 reads, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

Jesus said unto him, it is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7)

Here Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (Matthew 4:8-9)

Satan showed Jesus all the nations of the world and all their riches. This was a psychological temptation that would appeal to man’s lust for power. However, the Lord Jesus has “all power in heaven and earth,” should he decide to use it.

Then said Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10)

Jesus quotes scripture for the third time. This time He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20. He responded every time with scripture and that should tell us something. There is a reason why so many of us have a difficult time living the Christian life. It is because we are ignorant of God’s word. The answers to all of life’s problems are in His book. We need to read it and it would be good to be able to quote some verses.

Jesus answered Satan every time from the Word of God and the devil seemed to think that they were good answers because he did not argue, he just left.

Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matthew 4:11)

This testing revealed several things:
First, it is clear that Satan is a person. Jesus addressed him as such and treated him like a person. Satan is not just an influence, as some people believe.

Second, the devil is very subtle. He said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” (v. 3) The temptation is for Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God in a way that is not God’s way. To turn stones into bread could be a good thing, and later Jesus would do some amazing things with bread, feeding 5000 people at one time and 4000 at another. The temptation for Jesus was to get him to do something that was outside of the will of God for His life.

Also, every time that Jesus answered Satan, He used the word of God. If only we were adept at using the word of God. It is also a very effective tool for us today.

The Devil wanted to make Jesus a great religious leader, but to do it by missing the cross. He would have Jesus present His credentials through some spectacular miracle, rather than offering His credentials in the manner that God prescribed.

The Devil knew scripture and quoted scripture, or rather he misquoted it. He is a liar and will twist scripture to fit his purpose. It is important that we check every man’s words, or at least those who claim to preach the word, against the Bible.

Another thing that is interesting about the temptation is that Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Did he really have those kingdoms? I think he did because Jesus did not disagree. He did not say, “You can’t offer me what you do not have.” I believe that Satan is in control of this earth and the evidence is all the terrible things that are going on. I don’t believe that I need to make a list; you can do that. Satan is behind the confusion and turmoil that we see in the world. He is our enemy and he wants to be God. Remember, he said, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

In verse 11, we see that Satan left Him, but in Luke, we find it was only for a season. I don’t believe that he left Him alone for very long.


And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12)

“Driveth” is a strong, forceful word. The Spirit of God moved him out into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. This was God’s plan. Satan may have thought that he was forcing the issue, but the power and authority of Christ would prevail, just like it did in the Garden of Gethsemane and every time He freed a man from demon-possession. Other men had failed. They couldn’t do the job. The temptation was too great for them. Adam failed. Noah failed because after he got through the flood, he fell on his face. Abraham failed. Moses failed--he led the nation of Israel through the wilderness, but could not enter the Promised Land. David failed, even though he was “a man after God’s own heart.” Jesus did not fail, but it was the temptation that initiated Him into His work.

And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. (Mark 1:13)

Jesus was tempted during the whole forty days. Some people think that He fasted for forty days and then He was tempted. Actually, He was tempted all the time.

Mark is saying that Jesus was with the wild beasts and He was with the angels and both ministered to Him. The beasts are part of creation and under the domination of man. In Genesis, we learn that everything that God created was for the purpose of making a home for man. Jesus, being both man and God, was ministered to by the beasts that He created and by the angels that He also created.

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