THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS Luke 4:1-13

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1 1 THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS Luke 4:1-13 Satan recognized Jesus as the Son of God and thus saw in Him One who had come into the world to overthrow his kingdom. The Redeemer had come. The prison door was about to be thrown open and the captives were about to be set free. The prince of this world was not about to give way to the Prince of Peace without a momentous struggle. After all, he had overcome the first Adam in the Garden of Eden, Why, then, should he not overcome the second Adam in the desert? As He had banished man from the garden, why shouldn t he now banish him from God s kingdom? Satan didn t wait around very long. He went after Jesus at the very beginning of His public ministry. The plan was to divert Him right away, to nip His ministry in the bud, and undercut Him before His ministry got traction. The temptation of Christ is found in all of the synoptic gospels: Matthew (4:1-11), like Luke (4:1-13), gives an extensive account whereas Mark (1:12-13) gives a very brief summary of the historic event. But was Jesus temptation real? It is true that Jesus had no inner desire or inclination to sin, for these in themselves are sin (Mt 5:22,28). Because He was the Son of God, He did not sin in any way, whether by actions or word or inner desire (2 Co 5:21; Heb 7:26; 1 Jn 3:5). Yet Jesus temptation was real, not merely symbolic. Jesus was not playing charades, nor was He just going through the motions. He was fighting the forces of evil. As the writer to the Hebrew Christians put it: He was tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). This means that Jesus was confronted by the tempter with a real opportunity to sin. THE SETTING (Mk 1:12-14; Lk 4:12) Mark's concise summary (1:12-14) helps establish the setting for the temptation of Jesus. Mark indicates that after Jesus baptism the Spirit immediately led Jesus into the desert. The words wilderness or desert refer to deserted areas in the unpopulated wilds of Palestine. Mark indicates Jesus was "with the wild animals," presumably isolated from the distractions of humanity (Mk 1:13). The wilderness temptation is the first recorded event that follows the baptism of Jesus. Thus it is important to review Christ's baptism to better understand His temptation. Jesus moves quickly from a time of honor to a time of conflict. When Jesus was baptized God declared, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3:17, Mk 1:11). Satan challenged this declaration in the first two temptations. First came the testimony of God the Father: You are My beloved Son. Then came the sneering suggestion of Satan, If you are the Son of God. The significance of Jesus temptations, especially because they occurred at the outset of His public ministry, seems best understood in terms of the kind of Messiah He was to be.

2 2 The temptation of Jesus, which was divinely intended, has as its primary background Deuteronomy 8:1-5, from which Jesus also quotes in His first reply to the devil. Moses recalls how the Lord led the Israelites in the desert forty years to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. Here at the beginning of Jesus ministry Jesus is subjected to a similar test and shows Himself to be the true Israelite who lives on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Whereas Adam failed the great test and plunged the whole race into sin (Ge 3), Jesus was faithful and thus demonstrated His qualification to become the Savior of all who receive Him. Moreover, it was important that Jesus be tested, as Israel and we are, so that He could become our merciful and faithful high priest (Heb. 2:17) and thus be able to help those who are being tempted (Heb 2:18; 4:15-16). Finally, as the one who remained faithful in temptation, Jesus became the model for all believers when they are tempted. Scripture states that Jesus was tempted by the devil (4:23). God surely tests His people, but it is the devil who tempts. The purpose of testing is to reveal our strengths and weaknesses whereas the purpose of temptation is to encourage us to do evil. The name devil means accuser or slanderer. The devil is a personal being, not a mere force or influence. He is the personification of evil and thus the great archenemy of God and the leader of the hosts of darkness. Luke points out that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit during His time of temptation. Luke emphasizes the Holy Spirit not only in his gospel (1:35,41,67; 2:25-27; 3:16,22; 4:14,18; 10:21; 11:13; 12:10,12) but also in Acts, where the Spirit is mentioned fifty-seven times. The Temptation took place in the desert, probably the Desert of Judea, an area which stretched some twenty miles between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, an area where John the Baptist probably lived Luke states that Jesus was tempted for the forty days he was fasting, and the three specific temptations recounted in Matthew and Luke seem to have occurred at the close of this period when Jesus hunger was greatest and his resistance lowest. Forty days and forty nights (4:2) reminds us of the experiences of Moses (Ex 24:18; 34:28) and Elijah (1 Ki 19:8), as well as the forty years of Israel s temptation (testing) in the desert (Dt 8:2-3). THE FIRST TEMPTATION (4:3-4) The devil said to him, If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread. Jesus answered, It is written: Man does not live on bread alone' (vv. 3-4). The danger of this temptation was not in making bread. Jesus was not under a prohibition from miraculously creating food. On two occasions Jesus used his power to create bread for a multitude of people (Mk 6:35-44; 8:1-21). The real peril lay in Satan's proposed reason for creating bread.

3 3 Jesus immediately perceived the real danger and responded with a passage from Deuteronomy 8:3. In that passage Moses reminded the Israelites that God humbled them in the wilderness when He provided manna from heaven. If you are the Son of God (4:3) here probably means Since you are for Satan is not casting doubt on Jesus divine sonship but is tempting Him to use His supernatural powers as the Son of God for His own ends. The phrase tell this stone to become bread (v. 3) illustrates the fact that the devil always makes his temptations seem reasonable and attractive. Why should He, the Son of God, have to wait any longer? Aren t forty days and nights long enough? Why not tell this stone to become bread? Just as God gave the Israelites manna in a supernatural way (Dt 8:3), so also man must rely on God for spiritual feeding. Jesus relied on His Father, not His own miracle power, for provision of food (v. 4). Notice that Jesus responded to this temptation by using His Sword of the Spirit, that is, by quoting Scripture. THE SECOND TEMPTATION (4:5-8) The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours. Jesus answered, It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (4:5-8). For world dominion, Satan asked worship. Worship me, he said, And I will give You the world! (4:7) The devil was tempting Jesus to avoid the sufferings of the cross, which He came specifically to endure:. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45). Now My heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour (Jn 12:27). The temptation offered an easy shortcut to world dominion. Again, Jesus used His sword, the Word, as he quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13. The third and last temptation took place from the highest point of the temple (v. 9). This was either the southeast corner of the temple colonnade, from which there was a drop of some 100 feet to the Kidron Valley below, or the pinnacle of the temple proper. Although the exact spot is not given, Josephus, the Jewish historian, recorded that Herod's royal portico towered 450 feet over the Kidron Valley.1

4 4 If you are (4:9) again probably means Since you are. THE THIRD TEMPTATION (4:9-12) The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: 'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test' (vv. 9-12). Jesus did not question Satan's authority to grant the world's kingdoms. Bear in mind, however, that Jesus did not directly address Satan's apparent deceptions in the first two temptations. Either Satan possessed this authority, or he was validating his reputation as "the father of lies" (Jn 8:44).But the real issue was not Satan's authority. Rather, his suggestion violated the first commandment, which states: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex 20:3). After having lost the first two challenges, Satan appealed to Scripture by quoting Psalm 91: When isolated from other passages, this proposal seems reasonable. If Jesus were God's Son, then Scripture promised to save Him. Deceptively, Satan tried inciting Jesus to test the Scripture. Jesus addressed the real issue by quoting Scripture. The devil will use Scripture if it advances his cause. Jesus responds by again quoting Deuteronomy 6:16: "Do not test the Lord your God (Mt 4:7). way. Satan tempts Jesus to test God s faithfulness and to attract public attention in a very dramatic According to the first temptation, as Messiah Jesus would not accomplish His mission by using His supernatural power for His own needs. Jesus refusal to give in to the second temptation showed that Jesus refused to use His power to win a large following by miracles or magic. His resistance to the third and last temptation showed that Jesus would not compromise with the devil. In His encounter with the devil, the enemy of His soul and ours, Jesus demonstrated what he declared later in His ministry: I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself, He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (Jn. 5:19). By Myself I can do nothing (Jn 5:30).

5 5 And He said the same of us: I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn 15:5). JESUS IS LEFT FOR A MORE OPPORTUNE TIME (4:13) When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time (v. 13). Satan continued his tempting throughout Jesus ministry (Mk 8:33), culminating in the supreme test at Gethsemane. Because Peter s attempt to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross held the same temptation Satan tempted Jesus with, Jesus severely rebuked him: But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, he rebuke Peter. Get behind me, Satan! He said. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men. (Mk. 8:33) As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6: Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph 6:12). This is why we are exhorted to put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:13). Our real enemy is not human beings, but Satan. Therefore the battle cannot be fought using mere human resources. APPLICATION 1. Be ready for battle! Satan is poised as a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour (1 Pe 5:8). 2. Use the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Although Jesus was the Son of God, he defeated Satan by using a weapon that everyone has at his or her disposal: the sword of the Spirit, which is the world of God (Eph 6:17). He met all three temptations with scriptural truth (vv. 4,8,10) from the Book of Deuteronomy. 1 Josephus, Antiquities XV NOTES

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