I realize it’s been a while since my last post. I’m slowly getting into the habit of reading my Bible daily. It’s been a challenge, coming from a time when I didn’t read at all. In any case, I’ve been reading through Matthew. Here are my thoughts on the temptation of Jesus.
I imagine that many of you have heard this story in church, about how after his baptism, Jesus went out into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days. Afterward, Satan came and tempted Jesus three times. First off, it’s encouraging to know that we, as humans, are not the only ones that Satan tempts. We have a Redeemer that knows what we’ve been through, and can understand our problems. It’s great to know that we have hope for overcoming Satan, because Jesus already did.
The first temptation was for Jesus to use his divine power to turn bread into stones. He hadn’t eaten for 40 days, so he was pretty hungry at this point. I imagine it would have been easy for Him to take care of that physical need, but it was not right for Him to do so. Jesus counters with Deuteronomy 8:3, which says, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This is one reason that we need to know the Bible, and spend time meditating on it. How can we do what is right if we don’t know what right is? Jesus knew this, and because he had spent time in the Word, was able to resist temptation.
The next temptation from Satan is a bit more subtle. He takes Jesus to the top of the temple, and tells him to jump off. He quotes a scripture at Jesus saying that no harm will come to Him (Psalm 91:11-12). Jesus again counters with Deuteronomy 6:16, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God’”. This, again, shows how we must memorize Scripture, all of it. I think one of Satan’s favorite ways to attack us is by twisting God’s Word. If we don’t have the Word memorized, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking something is right when it is not.
The third way Jesus is tempted is by being given a shortcut to the kingdom He had the right to. Satan tells Jesus that he will give Him all of the world, if Jesus just worships him this one time. This is another way that I think we are attacked by Satan. We’re told a lie of an easy way to get what we want, if we only compromise a little. If we just worship Satan a little, just once, then he promises to give us things without having to put in the effort. Jesus knew that He would have to suffer and die before he could inherit His kingdom. I can only imagine how much He would have preferred to avoid that. But He tells Satan in verse 10, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’”
What I see in this passage gives me great hope. We are called to imitate Christ, to be His disciples. He would not ask us to do anything that He would not do, and that includes resisting temptation. He didn’t promise that we would never be tempted, but I believe that He always gives us a way to resist.