March 9, 2017

 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

(Matthew 4:1-4)

Everytime I read the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, I am struck at his complete obedience to God the Father. Jesus is coming off this declaration as the Son of God, and then steps into this God-appointed test as preparation for His ministry and mission. This testing would confirm his identity as God’s Son and his deep trust in His relationship with God the Father. It also provides us as an example of how to resist the devil and overcome temptation and sin.

 This testing would confirm his identity as God’s Son and his deep trust in His relationship with God the Father.

Each temptation from the devil cuts at Jesus’ identity and relationship with God the Father, in an attempt to get Jesus to misuse his status and thus forfeit his ministry. There was much at stake here, and a deep trust and obedience of God was required. Jesus had to trust the provision of God without ‘pulling rank’ (verse 2-4); Jesus had to trust in His Father’s care for Him without ‘forcing God’s hand’ (verses 5-7); Jesus had to trust in His Father’s plan rather than taking a “shortcut’ to fulfill His mission (verses 8-10).

In the face of these temptations, Jesus rebutted them all with Scripture all from Deuteronomy 6 -8, passages that parallel Israel’s experience of testing in the desert. Each passage Jesus uses cites the lessons that Israel should have learned. But where Israel failed in the desert, Jesus remained obedient and faithful to the Father, and thus was the foundation of his life and ministry.

But where Israel failed in the desert, Jesus remained obedient and faithful to the Father

Jesus was tempted in order to show us that we have a Savior who is “able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus is able sympathize with us in our weakness and temptation because He was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus’ perfect obedience is then given to us who trust in Him, the power at work in us to escape temptation and endure it in faithfulness (1 Corinthians 10:13). Isn’t that amazing? Jesus gives us the power to overcome temptation! But we still fail the test and succumb to temptation into sin, which is why Jesus continued in His obedience to the cross, overcoming sin and death, and purchasing perfect righteousness and life for you and me.

Where are you being tempted today? Maybe there are opportunities you have even now to lie, cheat, steal, take a deceitful shortcut, or look the other way in the face of wrongdoing. Flee! Ask and pray to God for help in these times of need, He is faithful. Remain obedient to God and His Word no matter the weight of temptation or the consequences, good or bad. Temptation is difficult but always temporary - resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Remember that the power of Jesus’ obedience is at work in you to overcome temptation and sin, and to cling to the Lord and trust Him in all of life!