Monday, January 30, 2012

The Temptation of Jesus

The Temptation of Jesus Luke 4:1-13 NASB

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'"

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,' and, 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'"And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'"

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

I have read these passages often enough so that their full impact is often lost for me. As I read them recently, I was reminded of the word 'temptation'. It means something. It isn't just words spoken to another.


I don't like cheese. If someone were to offer me a lifetime of cheese products, I wouldn't be tempted. Likewise, if I were given the opportunity to attend every Super Bowl from now until I'm old, I wouldn't be swayed in the least.
The Bible says Jesus was tempted by Satan, not merely propositioned. With this in mind, I read these passages with new meaning.


The first temptation is to turn the stones to bread. When I think about not eating for forty days, I honestly have just attributed this as more the Son of God part of Jesus than the Son of Man. I haven't even considered fasting for that long! I breeze over that verse as being nearly meaningless. But, Satan tempted Jesus. That means Jesus wanted some food! And He knew this was a possibility to that end.


Next, depending on the gospel, comes the suggestion to worship Satan in return for kingdoms. The Word says this tempted Jesus. I picture Christ, the man who has been wandering the wilderness, knowing the rejection He will face for millennia. He knew He was what He was going to suffer for our sakes.  He also knew that many would decide that it just wasn’t enough.  The sure thing of guaranteed kingdoms being His without all the suffering must have been what appealed to Him.


Finally comes the temptation to jump to a death that would not come. Satan employs Scripture in tempting Christ here. He reminds Jesus of the protective angels charged to guard from all dangers.

Consider this! Jesus is embarking on a ministry that will end with betrayal, beatings that will leave Him unrecognizable, and a most painful, humiliating death. To jump from the wall and NOT meet agony! To be cradled protectively in powerful arms! What a comfort the experience would be in contrast to the impending reality. It would build a memory worth clutching to in the dark days to come.


I have been told so many times that Jesus had been tempted, so He is a good friend to have while facing my own temptations. He's been there. He understands. Blah, blah, blah. I never put much stock in that because I'd always read the 'temptation’ of Christ’ as the ‘propositions of Satan’. I pictured Jesus scoffing at the ridiculous offers of a pesky gnat.


But if I am to take the Word of God as Truth, then Christ was actually tempted. He considered these offers and savored the options. He really can relate to my own temptations personally. He really has a compassion and an escape route for me.

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