Jesus Faces the Temptations of Satan in the Wilderness
All humanity was changed in a moment in the life of Adam. By going against the one thing God prohibited him from in the Garden. In making the decision to disobey God, Adam initiated the start of thousands of years of suffering, anguish, and death for mankind. God brought a penalty upon Adam and it was because of his mistake he brought sin into his body. And it would be with him forever restraining him from ever being in God’s presence. And this sin would be shared with all his descendants because they share the same nature as Adam and must also share in the same condemnation. And this was the only penalty God could issue, eternal separation for all humanity that led to eternal death.
God’s penalty to Adam was part of His plan. It would be part of His amazing grace He was bringing to the world. God did not desire to see the human race suffer the penalty because of Adam’s disobedience. His plan would bring a new Adam to start the human race again, where the new Adam would not fail as the old Adam did. And like the old Adam, the new Adam would multiply and these new descendants would not have the nature of the first Adam but have a new nature that is perfected. And this new line of the human race would be able to enjoy the presence of God and have a relationship with Him because this new birth was of a perfect and sinless man. The would be the children of God adopted by faith.
The second Adam was Jesus Who was sent to earth not to repeat the mistakes of the first Adam, but instead, He would obey God in all things. We would become His children, born again, forever separating from our earthly father, Adam. Thurs, providing us new birth in Christ.
Luke 4:1-13 (NKJV)
Satan Tempts Jesus
4 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward when they had ended, He was hungry.
3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’”
5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’
‘In their hands, they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
The Spirit had descended upon Jesus and anointed Him for His earthly ministry when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Jesus being born a man shared in the same limitations of man and was dependent on the Holy Spirit. He also was able to experience the same emotions, physical pain, and temptations. By being limited in His physical nature He relied on the Holy Spirit to guide Him, strengthen Him and Comfort Him. He relied on the Spirit to provide Him with supernatural insight to know men’s heart and to know the will of His Father.
So now we see the Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness to wander for 40 days and not having anything to eat during this time. Going this length of time without food is on the verge of causing death and tremendous weakness physically and mentally. We are told during His 40 days in the wilderness (in the time of Jesus the wilderness conditions would have been desert-like and brutal) the scripture tells us Jesus was encountering temptations by the devil. While we do not know the specifics of all the temptations, but it is safe to think He was tempted in all the ways man is tempted,.
After 40 days of fasting, Jesus was hungry we are told and we know going to such a length of fasting makes one weak as well, physically and mentally. Then Satan attacks Jesus again at the end of this fasting. It was God’s desire to have Jesus in a place of deprivation where He depended on His self-control (the spirit over the flesh) while facing the temptations of Satan. Jesus was demonstrating His own willingness to rely fully on the Holy Spirit instead of submitting to the wants of the flesh. This is something all believers face on a daily basis.
Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness should remind us back in the time of Moses when the Jewish nation wandered 40 years in the wilderness.
1 Corinthians 10:1-6 (NKJV)
Old Testament Examples
10 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them, God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now, these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
Jesus’ time in the desert was meant to bring up a memory of the Jews in the desert on the issue of temptation. The three specific examples of temptation in Luke, we can see lessons that connected with the Jewish people in the wilderness. An example, in Exodus, God calls Israel His Son, His first-born when speaking to Pharaoh. Just as Jesus is God’s Son. And uses periods of 40 for trials and testing. Like Noah in the Ark, 40 days and 40 nights of rain, And Moses who himself fasted in the desert. And of course, the Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years,
Jesus’ time in the wilderness included temptation. Just as the Jewish nation experienced temptation in the desert. But even though God will test us we are reminded in James:
James 1:3 (NKJV)
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
In fact, we are the ones who test and tempts God to action, in the ways of our disobedience, Temptation is the calling card of Satan.
The first temptation from Satan we are told about at the end of the 40 days is over the issue of food, And naturally, Satan is looking to attack Jesus at His weakest point at this time. This is a common trick Satan has been using since the time in the Garden with Adam and Woman. Satan tells Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Something only the Son of God has the ability to accomplish, Here, Satan is attacking the flesh in two ways. First, the Spirit has directed Jesus to fast during His time in the wilderness and Satan is trying to get Him to break that fast by making food for Himself, Satan says “if you are the Son of God…” as if he is trying to get Jesus to prove who He is. Therefore Satan is not only entreating Jesus’ hunger and needs for food, but he is also seeking to incite Jesus’ pride. Satan is saying you are the Son of God and you don’t need to be suffering like this. Satan is trying to instill doubt in Jesus’ mind of God’s love for Him. By Him being deprived of His honor as the Son of God. Knowing He could at any time, make food from the stones. This is the same tactic Satan used in the Garden to deceive Woman through pride. But Jesus counters, saying “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but every word of God.”
Satan does not give up and then we see Jesus with Satan on a tall mountain as Satan shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and promises Jesus all of what He sees can be His. How is it possible Satan has the authority to make this offer to Jesus? As Satan is proclaiming all these kingdoms belong to him. When Adam sinned he lost dominion over the earth. In Hebrews, because sin was introduced into the world and with it the fear of death, which gave Satan control over all the unbelievers in this world. Paul even refers to Satan as the prince of the power of the air.
Ephesians 2:2 (NKJV) *
2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
And Jesus could have that same power from Satan if He turns and agrees to Satan’s terms and worships him.instead of the Father in Heaven. This is a more powerful temptation than it initially appears. Thinking Jesus would not have any interest in this offer and therefore why would He even consider it. In reality, this is the very thing Jesus came to gain at some point, exactly what Satan was offering. Jesus came to redeem, purchase and gain control over the world. However, the Father’s plan concerning how He would obtain these things involved Jesus experiencing excruciating pain through torture and then death before He would inherit His Kingdom. And Satan was offering these world kingdoms without Him needing to experience any suffering. Jesus understood the pain that awaited Him that was beyond anything ever experienced and the flesh of Jesus probably wanted to cry out for the opportunity to be saved from what He ultimately would face in the end. But Jesus responds citing words from Deuteronomy spoken to the nation of Israel. Scripture that reflected another poor period in the history of that nation. In Deuteronomy, God warned the nation to seek Him alone and not to mix with the people they come across in the land. He tells them these ungodly people will pollute them and draw them away, into idol worship, that is to worship Baal – Satan himself. As we know Israel doesn’t heed God’s warnings and fall. Likewise, we are susceptible to be enticed and drawn away in many kinds of idol worship in the ungodly culture we live in today. Satan is constantly at work appealing to us with the ungodly things of this world to lead us to worship false idols, things we put our trust in instead of the only thing that matters, our Lord. Yes, as Christians we have the Spirit to prevent us turning away to the point of unbelief. However, we can still suffer many of the same penalties of living a life devoted to pursuing things that are not of God.
Satan is not giving up and decidedly makes one final attempt to try and corrupt Jesus. Satan takes Jesus to the top of the temple overlooking the temple mount and is most likely is 60-80 feet above the ground. Satan now uses the scriptures as a way of getting to Jesus. Satan quotes Psalm 91 which is a messianic Psalm about the coming of Christ. In it, it declares the Father will always care for His Son to ensure He will complete the mission He is assigned. Satan is misusing the scripture to bring a legitimate cause at the moment. He doesn’t necessarily need scripture, but Satan’s goal is always the same. To twist the truth into a lie for he is the father of lies after all. And in this situation he is confronting someone who respects the authority of the scriptures, it is by that means he will use scripture to present his case.
While Satan appears to correctly be using scripture, he is actually misusing it. The psalm declares that the Father will ensure that the Son will not fail in anything that He has come to do. It further says the Father will protect His Son in this way because of His love and obedience.
Psalm 91:14 (NKJV)
14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high because he has known My name.
If Jesus had followed Satan, He would be going against scripture and He would not be obeying and loving the Father. Jesus’ response to Satan and also as a reminder to ourselves that we are not to test God in order to prove that He will keep His promises. As Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6. Another reference to the Jews in the desert at the time of Moses.
Deuteronomy 6:16 (NKJV)
16 “You shall not tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah.
The Jews tested God when they were thirsty and found no water. Even though God was prepared to provide them with water as He had previously done, they continued to grumble and question His faithfulness. And through their complaints, they were essentially saying God could not be trusted. The story of this event is in Numbers, but in Psalm 95 provides a clear summary of this.
Psalm 95:6-11 (NKJV)
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice:
8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
When we are insisted on God to provide proof so we can trust Him, then we begin to anger Him. We are provoking Him because our lack of faith is revealed and therefore we are forgetting who we are and who God is. But Jesus doesn’t show a lack of faith nor does He anger God. And once again Satan has failed in his temptations to discredit Jesus. As Jesus endured 40 days of physical trials and constant temptations of Satan, the enemy, He showed His worthiness to be the new Adam.
Romans 5:19 (NKJV)
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience, many will be made righteous.
After this Satan withdrew, we are told for a more opportune time. A time when Satan would try to use evil man to bring down Jesus. However, Satan was unaware that the death of Jesus was all part of God’s plan. And as Jesus went to the cross He was showing the greatest of obedience to the Father.
Think of the length the Father went to show the superiority of His Son over the first Adam.
- Adam lived under ideal conditions without deprivation.
- Adam had only one rule to follow.
- Adam was never tempted by Satan. he only had a simple offer to eat what his wife gave him.
- And Adam couldn’t obey.
However, Jesus endured a much different test.
- Jesus was starved nearly to death.
- Jesus was surrounded by harsh conditions.
- Jesus was constantly facing the temptations of Satan.
- Jesus’ obedience required the greatest of efforts.
- Jesus could not disobey.
So let’s see, as it is now our turn. We cannot tell God that our test is too difficult.
- That we are facing physical conditions that are too difficult to overcome.
- That our circumstances in life make it impossible to be obedient.
- That we face unreasonable temptations.
- That the devil made us do it.
- That our effort is unable to match the test.
- That we can’t obey.
Because our Lord has already been there before us. And the same Spirit that gave Him strength through His ordeals is the same Spirit that is in each of us today. And if we are willing to discipline the mind and body, we can be led by the Spirit just as Jesus was.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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