The Temptation of Christ

Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Jesus was led by the Spirit, who
immediately drove Him into the desert for forty days. And after He had fasted forty days and nights,
Satan (the devil, the tempter) came to Him with three frontal attack temptations, but the pressure of the
temptation was present throughout the period. The purpose of temptation was to demonstrate Jesus’ right
and authority to minister.

The place of the temptations was the desert. The first Adam met his temptation in the garden of beauty
and plenty; the last Adam in the barren, flowerless waste, with poverty, hunger, and the wild beasts.

The essence of Christ’s temptation was to take the short and easy road to the Messiahship by conforming
to the popular ideal rather than the hard and slow way of the spiritual deliverer. Satan wanted Jesus to use
His divine powers to meet His own needs outside of the will of God. It was a question of putting
immediate needs ahead of eternal purposes. Satan dares Jesus to prove the faithfulness of God and offers
Him an easy way to become King. Forget His God for the sake of the riches of this world and to fall into
idolatry (worship of Satan). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus used the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph
6:17), quoting from Deuteronomy, to defeat the tempter.

Adam is God’s son and so is Jesus of Nazareth. If the Second Adam fails as the first Adam did, all hope
for the race is gone. The cunning deception Satan used on Eve, he tries on Jesus.

In Genesis 3, Adam failed, suffered a complete fall and thereby plunged his entire progeny into a state of
confirmed unholiness. In the desert, Israel was an utter failure. In the desert, Jesus was victorious,
realized a complete victory and thereby bound the strongman of this world and gave notice of greater
things to come. Thus, Christ begins His public ministry by demonstrating His moral superiority over
Adam, Israel and Satan.

Theological and philosophical question: If Jesus is God and James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted with
evil, then how was Jesus really tempted in the desert? The theological question of the nature of Jesus’
sinlessness is summarized by two Latin phrases:

Posse non peccare – “able not to sin”
Non posse peccare – “not able to sin”

Hebrews 4:15 affirms Jesus was temptability. The temptation had to be real and therefore it implies
possibility. If He was a true man, Jesus was capable of sinning. If from the constitution of His person, it
was impossible for Christ to sin; then His temptation was unreal and without effect, and He cannot
sympathize with His people. That’s the philosophical conclusion. The theological conclusion is that
Jesus was “not able to sin” for He is God. Yet, He was able to be tempted for He is man. While His
human nature was temptable, His divine nature is not. It is possible to tempt the impossible. A rowboat
can attack battleship, even though it is conceivably impossible for the rowboat to conquer the battleship.
The temptation was real and experienced, but a waste of Satan’s time and effort. The Word in flesh
conquers the enemy.

In the Temptation, Christ the Son of David won the victory over Satan:

1.Both David and Christ came from Bethlehem
2.Both were chosen and anointed by God
3.Both were “exiles” and persecuted before being crowned
4.Goliath dared Israel for forty days; Satan attacked Christ forty days
5.David used one stone from five to slay the giant; Christ used one book (Deuteronomy) from five
(the Law of Moses) to defeat Satan
6.David cut off the giant’s head with his sword; Christ overcame Satan with the sword of the Spirit,
the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12)

The arsenal from which our Lord has drawn the weapon of His spiritual warfare is Deuteronomy 6-8. At
the head of this section stands the Shema, the central command: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the
LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
strength.”

In the Temptation, the Messiah (the Anointed One) as:

1.The Prophet appeals to Scripture
2.The Priest suffers temptation
3.The King battles and triumphs over Satan

Jesus, the Christ, is proven ready to embark on His mission and ministry.

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