Jesus Tempted - Page 2 (series: Harmony of the Gospels)
by John Lowe
Jesus was tempted as a man. They were the same types of temptations that come to all of us, and they were threefold:
1. The first temptation was directed at the flesh. Jesus was in need of food. His body and mind desired it, but for Him to turn stones into bread would be wrong. It would be selfish because He had come to show man that we do not live only to satisfy the needs of the body. It is more important that we feed upon the word of God. However, what we have today is a society that says, “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” And after that, there is nothing else. Our Lord, in not giving into this temptation, refuted the popular philosophy of the world.
2. Satan offers Jesus the nations of the world. Nations derive their power through brute force and political intrigue. They are founded on war. They operate through corruption and fear and make people dependent on the government. This is Satanic and that is the type of kingdoms that Satan wanted to give to Jesus. But the Kingdom of God is different. It requires that a man change before he can enter it: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Jesus answered Satan by bringing the focus back to our Almighty and Holy God: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)
3. Satan tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple. It would have been an easy way to get people’s attention and show His power. But Jesus did not choose to take the easy way to the throne. He chose the way of the cross, so that He could save mankind, and so that He could do the Father’s will.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. (Luke 4:1-2)
In the genealogy that is in Luke, we can trace the line of Christ all the way back to Adam. This is on Mary’s side. It was as a human being that He was tempted.
There is something ghastly and horrible about the temptation of Christ. There were evil forces present all around Him. I believe that Satan threw everything that he could at Him. Only the one who created all things could have come through this experience.
There are several things to consider about the temptation of the Lord. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He had taken on our humanity, so He needed the Holy Spirit to face the temptations. And we need the Holy Spirit to face the temptations in our life. Paul, who some would say is the greatest Christian that ever lived said, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7:21) This is true in my life, and it is also true for you. Then in Galatians 5:16 Paul says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” We need the Holy Spirit.
We are told that before the testing, the Lord was led (Mark says driven) by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. He did not seek the tempting by Satan, but God ordained it. It would be proof that He was who He said that He was.
The Lord’s temptation did not begin at the end of the forty days. He was tempted continually by Satan and after the temptation, we read in verse 13 of this chapter, “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” Satan didn’t leave Him alone for long. In the Garden of Gethsemane, there was another onslaught against Jesus.
Satan is a person. Jesus met him face-to-face. Satan is subtle. At one time he may appear as a roaring lion--"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8), and the next time as an angel of light--"And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14). Sometimes he comes seeking to devour and at other times he attempts to deceive. But the scriptures are clear about him being a person.
The threefold testing of the Lord was physical, psychological and spiritual.
And the devil said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. (Luke 4:3)
Satan has a very low opinion of mankind. He said in Job 2:4, “…..Skin for skin, all that a man have will he give for his life.” He thought that Jesus would give into the temptation to relieve His hunger. But Jesus never gave into temptation and He used the word of God to defeat him.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4)
Next, Satan tested Jesus in the psychological realm.
And the devil, taking him up into a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever, I will give it. If thou, therefore, will worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:5-8)
This test had to do with what John called the lust of the eyes. Satan took Jesus to the top of a high mountain where He could see all the kingdoms of the world. That would have included the Roman Empire. Christ was on His way to the throne, by way of the cross, but Satan said to Him, “It is foolish to suffer the pain and humiliation of the cross. Take the easy way.” It is foolish today to try to build a kingdom, nation, business or family without Christ because there are only two rulers: Satan and Jesus. If you are not taking the Lord into account, you must be taking the other. The apostle Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Finally, the Lord was tested in the physical realm.
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time, thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. (Luke 4:9-13)
John calls this testing “…..the pride of life…..” (1 John 2:16) This involves faith and patience. Satan wants Christ to make a demonstration of His power. Then people would accept Him, but this would not be faith. He was daring God. Faith is quietly waiting upon God and doing His will.
Why was Jesus Christ tempted? It was to demonstrate that we have a sinless savior. He proved that all power had been given to Him. Satan did not have anything to offer Him. There is a man in heaven today that experienced all aspects of our life so that he could understand us and be our advocate. In 1 John 2:1-2, it says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” We can depend upon the Lord Jesus, no matter what our circumstances in life might be.
You may have noticed that beginning with this chapter, I have switched from the NIV to the King James Bible for all scripture. Although the NIV has better clarity, I find that something is lost in the NIV translation and that the King James version gives a better sense of what the Holy Spirit is saying. The remainder of this text will use only the King James translation. However, I invite you to use any study aids available to assist you in understanding the material.