THE LIFE OF CHRIST
Last week, we looked at John the Baptist and ended with Jesus being baptized. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit decended on Him. Tonight, we will begin looking at the temptation of Jesus. There a two full accounts of this in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. Markís account mentions it as well, but itís just brief summary (Mk. 1:12). Mathew and Luke record the same event, but they differ in the order that three recorded temptation are listed. This is not a contridiciton because the events do not have to be any order, they just tell what happened.
I will mainly be using Lukeís account because it has more unique informaton than the other accounts. However, I will point a few unique things from Matthew and Mark along the way. I want to read the account first and then come back and break it down.
Luke 4:1 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,'† 11 "and, '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.
Now letís go back to verse 1:
Luke 4:1 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.
I want to picture this in your mind. Jesus has been baptized and now has the Holy Spirt. It is time for Him to begin His ministry. The first thing that He must endure is this battle with Satan. This would not be battle with Deity part of Christ, but with the human side of Christ. This battle was not an accident, because the Holy Spirit led Jesus to go into the wilderness. We are not told where this was, but some think it may have been the same wilderness that John had been in. Markís account tells us that his companions were the wild beasts.
We only have three of the temptations recorded for us that Jesus endured apparently at after He had fasted for 40 days and nights. However, Lukeís and Markís accounts indicate that He was tested by Satan thoughout the 40 days.†
And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
Jesus fasted from food not water. 40 days is a long time for anyone to go without food. He would have been physically and mentally weak. In fact, I image it was a struggle for Him to even walk. To say that He was hungry is understatement. He would have been ravenous. Hunger has driven many men to do evil things to get some food.† It is a powerful pull on any man because† every ounce of your being wants something to eat. This was a temptation within itself because Jesus had the ability to work miracles, though He had not worked one yet. How tempting would it be to conjur up some food to feed yourself? Very tempting! So, the stage is set for the Satan to have the best chanch at tempting Jesus to sin.
3 And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."†
Put yourself in the shoes of a man who has not eaten for 40 days. Just the mere suggestion of using your power to produce bread would probably make your mouth water. Within this statement is also a challenge to Jesus to prove that He is the Son of God. The devil has had thousands of yeasr to master his crafitiness, and he knows exactly the right moment when you are the weakest. This was not something that Jesusí human side could easily ignore. Yet, this is Jesus response:
But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' "†
Jesus uses the Word of God as His defense. He quotes Deut. 8:3. In essence, He is telling the devil that using food to cure His hunger is not more important that trusting in God. Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson in this first temptation. The best way to defeat the temptations in your life is to fill your heart with the Word of God. As David wrote:
Psalm 119:11† Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Peter tells us to resist the devil steadfast in the faith (1 Pet. 5:9), and James tells us that when we do, he must flee (Jam. 4:7). If you want to be prepared to face your toughest temptations, then immerse yourself in Godís Word. We must have the mentality as expressed in the following verses:
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
So, if you want to have the best chance of resisting even the toughest temptations in your life, then immerse yourself in the Word of God. Satan has lost the first battle; now letís move onto the second one.
† 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."†
We are not told how the devil took Jesus to this high mountain. Did they walk, did he transport Him there by some miraculous way, or was this some kind of vision? Based on some of the things that are taking place in these temptations, it seems to be miraculous to me.
For example, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment, which means instantly. Was this just some panoramic view of kingdoms far off, or did He actual give Jesus a quick glimpse of all the kingdoms and their supposed glory.
Satan claims to have the authority to give Jesus the power over all these kingdoms. This would certainly be a tempting offer to many men because the thought of having that much power and control over the world can be intoxicating.
Many men would have no problem bowing down to Satan for that kind of power, but what was Jesusí response?
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.' "
Once again, Jesus rebukes the devil with Scripture and tells him to get behind him. Jesus knew that if He were to bow down to Satan that it would make Jesus his servant. There was no way that Jesus would ever serve or worship anyone other than God. He knows that you cannot serve two masters.
Did Satan actually have the authority of the kingdoms he proclaimed? He may have because Jesus would later call Him the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31), but we must never forget that he is also the Father of lies.
Whether he was telling the truth or not, Jesus would not bow down to him because even if he were able to give Jesus authority over the kingdoms at that time, it would be temporary because everything on this earth is temporary and will eventually be burned up.
The only kingdom that will last forever is the one Jesus would go on to establish. It is the only kingdom that will continue on for eternity in heaven. So, Jesus was not about to exchange the temporary for the eternal.
We must learn from this that no matter how great something may look to us or how much money it might make us, do not take the bait of the devil. Remember what Paul said:
2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.† 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
The devil is the great deceiver. He has no problem with deceiving you with false claims or worldly claims, so be ready for your adversary the devil by knowing the Word of God so that you do not find yourself bowing down to Satan because you took his bait.
The devil has lost two rounds now. Maybe the saying will come true for him that says, ďthe third time is the charm.Ē
"† 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,'† 11 "and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "†
Again, we are not specifically told how the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, but we do know that he chose one of the most important locations for a Jew. The devil challenges Jesus to show how much He trusts in God by throwing Himself down to the ground. This time Satan uses Scripture to back up his temptation as he quotes Psalm 91:11-12.
I can imagine the devil saying something like, ďIf you can find it in the Word of God and you trust in God, shouldnít you† believe it?Ē This temptation shows how Satan has no problem with using parts of the Bible or even certain righteous things to get the results that he wants. What is Jesusí response to this?
12 And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' "†
Jesus answers back with more Scripture by quoting Deut. 6:16. What this shows us is that we cannot base things off of one Scripture about a topic. Instead, we must look at everything Godís Word says about any given topic. This is an area that has caused many false doctrines to be taught from the Word of God because verses are plucked from context and are isolated from other verses that talk about that topic. Though the devil quoted Scripture to get Jesus to show that He was really the Son of God by allowing God the Father to keep Him from hitting the ground, he was twisting the Scripture.
Jesus corrects him by pointing out that if He threw Himself down to the ground this would not be trusting in the Father to save Him, it would be testing Him. To test God is to show a lack of faith and trust in Him. So, the very think Satan said would show His trust in the Father would have just the opposite effect.
Just because someone can quote Scripture out of context does not mean that they are speaking the truth, which is why we are taught to test all things (1 Thes. 5:21). We are to be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures daily to see if what is being taught and said by others is true.
You can teach almost anything by quoting a single verse out of context or by isolating it from other verses that give you the complete picture of a topic, so donít ever fall for such tactics. Always use all of Godís Word to prove things.
Next we read:
13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
The battle was over for now. Jesus had won. Satan had used all three of the tactics he was famous for using that usually worked on others. These three tactics are given to us in:
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world.
Satan used the lust of the flesh to appeal to Jesusí hunger. The lust of the eyes was when he showed Jesus all the kingdoms and their glory. The pride of life was him trying to get Jesus to prove how important He was that God the Father would save Him if He threw Himself down to the ground. Satanís bags of tricks were no match for Jesus. He had passed this first test, but Satan would come after Him again in many different ways.
One thing we should learn from this is that we are not above Jesus. If Satan had no problem tempting Jesus, he will have problem tempting us. Just as Satan began his attacks after Jesus was baptized and received the Holy Spirit, he will be after us more dillegently once we obey the gospel and are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He was not concerned about us before because we were exactly where he wanted us, but now he wants us to fall because he wants to do everything he can to keep us from remaining faithful to God. If we follow Jesusí example, we can be victorious over the devil as well.
One of the reasons Jesus subjected Himself to the devilís temptations was to help prepare Himself to be stronger in His faithfulness in human side, and it would give Him the experience He needs to know how to help us in our time of need as:
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.† 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus has not experienced every kind of temptation that is out there, but he did experience every type of temptation and they can all be defeated by trusting in God and His Word. So, I hope that is what we learn from Jesusí temptation.
We will face the devil more than once because it is a continuous battle, but we with Christ on our side and using the sword of the spirit, we can and will be victorious over the devil and all that he throws at us.
The temptation of Christ was such an ordeal that after Satan left Matthew and Mark tells us that angels ministered to Him. So, donít ever think that He was not physically weak or that these temptations Jesus faced were not all that tempting to Him.
For the last part of our lesson, we are going to go back to the Book of John and look at John the Baptist testimony about Jesus and read his remembrance of Jesusí baptism.
John 1:19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"† 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, "I am not the Christ."† 21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" And he answered, "No."
Those in Jerusalem had heard about Johnís preaching and ministry. Verse 24 reveals that the Pharisees were the ones who urged this group of Levites and Priests to find out who John was. When John was questioned about who he was, he denied being the Christ. Then they ask him two more questions.
First, they asked him, ďAre you Elijah?Ē They thought the Scriptures foretold that Elijah would be resurrected and sent back as a forerunner for the coming Messiah (Mal. 4:5-6). Notice, John said, no I am not him. However, Jesus said that he was Elijah (Mk. 9: 11-13; Mt. 11:13-14).
Is this a contradiction? Jesus said he was Elijah, but John said he was not. Luke 1:13-17 provides the answer. The forerunner would not be Elijah resurrected, he would only be a person that came in the spirit and the power of Elijah. It is in this sense that John was Elijah. So, there is no contradiction.†
Second, they asked him, ďAre you the Prophet?Ē They knew what the Scriptures said even though they did not fully understand them. There question came from what Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. However, this prophecy was about Christ (Acts 3:18-22). Of course, Johnís answered no to this question as well.
John 1:22 Then they said to him, "Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?"† 23 He said: "I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Make straight the way of the LORD," ' as the prophet Isaiah said."
Since John was not the Christ, Elijah, or the prophet, they wanted to know, ďWho are you then?Ē He answered with Isa.40:3.
John 1:25 And they asked him, saying, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"
The baptism John was teaching was something new and different. If Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet had come as the Jews understood it, they could anticipate them teaching a new rite like baptism. Since John declared that he was none of these, they cannot understand why John is baptizing.
John 1:26 John answered them, saying, "I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.† 27 "It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose."† 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John baptized with water, and his baptism was by immersion, which is what baptism means (John 3:23). His baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mk. 1:4), and it came from heaven (Mt. 21:25). We will see another purpose of his baptism in verse 29ff. John referred to Jesus again is verse 27.
We know the name of the place where John was baptizing, but unfortunately, there are two places with this name within a couple of miles from each other. So, we donít know for sure the exact location where this took place.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!† 30 "This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'† 31 "I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."† 32 And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.† 33 "I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'† 34 "And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."
Another purpose of Johnís baptism was to reveal who the Messiah was. When the text says that John didnít know Him, it does not necessarily mean he didnít know who His own cousin was. In context, John was simply saying he did not know that Jesus was the Messiah until it was revealed to him on that day when he baptized Him, and the Spirit descended on Him and stayed.
This was Godís sign to John that Jesus was the Messiah, and this is the reason he called him the ďlamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.Ē Isaiah 53:7 talks about how Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, which is exactly what happened to Him. He was an innocent man who was killed on the cross, and it was through His sacrifice that He bore all our sins. Since John was an eyewitness of Jesus, he boldly proclaimed that Jesus is the Son of God.
One last thing I want to point out about the idea of John not know Jesus comes from last weekís lesson when John appears to know who Jesus is and that He is special because he refuses to baptize Jesus at first saying he should be baptized by Him. My opinion is that Johnís parents would have no doubt taught John about Jesus and how He was born of a virgin.
Perhaps Elizabeth told him about how he leaped in her womb when Mary came a visited her with Jesus in her womb. Even if John had not never met Jesus face to face until that moment, when he found who He was, He would of known there was something special about Him, and John probably thought that Jesus may be the one God told Him about.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit caused him to know that something was special about him. Whatever the answer is, we can know that John would not for sure that Jesus was the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit until He saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him, which he did. So, that is how we can reconcile how John did not know Jesus was the Messiah for sure, yet could have known about Him or even knew who He was in person.†
Our next few lessons will be coming from the Book of John. If you want to get a jump start on or next lesson, then you need to start reading John 1:35 through the end of John 2. I think we have learned a lot from Jesusí temptations so that we can understand the importance of being prepared to face our own temptations. As John pointed out, we can know with certainty that Jesus is the Son of God. So, let us never fail to put our complete trust in God and His Word.