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The Temptation of Jesus

I. The facts
A. Matt.4:1-11
B. Immediately following His baptism and before the beginning of His ministry, the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness where, after 40 days of fasting, Satan tempted Him.
C. Where it’s found
1. Mark’s gospel
2. Matthew and Luke – three temptations
3. This story must have come to us through Jesus Himself, since there were no eye-witnesses.
D. This was not the end of temptation for Jesus
1. Luke 4:13 “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.”
2. Demons in demon-possessed people
3. Jewish leaders (Matt. 19:3; 22:15-18; Luke 11:53ff.) — especially their demands for signs (Matt. 12:38; 16:1; Luke 11:16)
4. The people – e.g. John 6:15 (to become their king), John 6:30-33 (to do another miracle like the feeding of the 5000)
5. His brothers: Show Yourself to the world! (John 7:2-5)
6. His disciples – “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mark 8:33)
7. Gethsemane and Golgotha
a. Matthew 27:42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.”
b. He was tempted to call forth legions of angels to deliver Him, but He did not – because He would have forsaken what He came to do – to die for our salvation.
II. Explanation
A. A new Adam, a new temptation
1. Not in a garden, but in a wilderness (for Adam’s sin had turned paradise into wilderness)
a. Rocky, barren, isolated, hot (the home of spiders, scorpions, snakes and wild beasts)
2. Forbidden food
3. Fasting versus feasting
a. The only one is forbidden
b. Only one is forbidden
4. Human history hung in the balance as Jesus went face to face with His arch-enemy.
5. As we observe this story unfolding, we are like the Israelites standing before the Philistines, sending out our David against their Goliath, all our hopes riding on Him. If He loses, we are lost, we are goners, we are done-for, we are dead ducks.
B. A new Israel sent out into the wilderness to be tested
1. Israel was a new Adam, who fails just like the first Adam. Jesus is a new Israel as well.
2. Deut.8:2-3 “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
C. The meaning of the 3 temptations
1. Bread
a. The enormous appetite after 40 days – Jesus was literally starving!
b. How easy it is to give in to the temptation to get relief!
c. “I have food you know not of.” (John 4:32)
2. Throw Yourself down - prove Yourself
a. The very last words Jesus heard before being driven into the wilderness were “This is my beloved Son!”
b. After all this (suffering), can You really expect us to believe You’re the Son of God?
3. Bow and rule - shortcut: avoid the cross
a. After getting a taste of human suffering – Jesus knew the cross would be worse.
III. What does all this tell us about Satan?
A. We learn much about the way of the devil
1. He tempts according to who and where we are. He did not tempt Jesus to commit adultery or get drunk. He tempted Him to turn stones into bread. He tempted Him to grab authority without going through the torture of the cross. He tempted Him to prove He was the son of God by jumping off.
2. The subtle ways of Satan’s temptations
a. The three things Satan tempted Jesus to do were not evil in themselves.
b. He even uses Scripture.
c. He always twists the truth. “Has God said?”
3. We need to be well-equipped to handle his devices. Especially we need to be well-equipped re: God’s word.
a. And knowing it, to fight the battle of faith.
b. The issue is: Who is telling you the truth? Do we believe God? Do we trust God to take care of us?
4. Satan has only a negative agenda for us. He’s not trying to get us to be something, he’s only trying to get us not to be something.
5. Satan doesn’t care what he gets us doing as long as it’s not trusting and loving and obeying God.
6. And so he’ll use anything, ANYTHING, to distract us, to dislodge us, to relocate us away from Christ.
IV. What does all this tell us about ourselves?
A. This story is a terrible criticism of you and me. It ruins all our excuses.
1. All the times we blame our sin on hunger or fatigue or headache or sickness. All the times we point to our situation, our loneliness, our lack of support.
2. Jesus pulls the rug out from under all of these right here in this episode.
3. Circumstances don’t cause you to sin. Circumstances merely bring out what’s already in the heart.
4. Jesus didn’t sin even in these terribly agonizing circumstances, because there wasn’t any sin to bring out.
5. “In my heart there is a treason, one that poisons all my love.” Jesus didn't have this.
6. What leads us into sin? James 1:13-15 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
V. What does all this tell us about our Lord?
A. Jesus shows Himself righteous by resisting the temptation
1. Here we see Jesus at His best. No amount of pressure or appeal could budge Him. He is still righteous after 40 days of fasting, surrounded by enemies, tempting by the One who is famous for craftiness.
2. Mark: “He was with the wild beasts”
a. Psalms
b. 22:12-13, 16 “Many bulls have surrounded me. Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me as a ravening and a roaring lion...Dogs have surrounded me.”
c. The lions’ den
3. Look at what normal sinful men will do when subjected to this kind of hunger:
a. Perhaps we’ve heard horrifying stories of what people have done who get desperate as a result of hunger. The Scriptures themselves give us haunting examples of this. E.g...
b. Deut.28:52-57 “It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the Lord your God has given you. Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you. The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain, so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he will eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in all your towns. The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in your towns.”
c. But Jesus wouldn’t give in even to the temptation to make bread.
4. This is the righteousness which now saves you by counting for you.
5. 1Cor.1:30 “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”
B. He knew His Bible and was well-skilled in its use.
1. 18 years after astonishing the Bible experts in the temple at age 12 (18 years of learning the word of God and how to use it), we see Him here not sparring with the theologians but warring with the devil himself.
2. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
3. We are called to be Christ-like.
C. Intent on saving you
1. Why learn the Scriptures so well? Why did Jesus go into the wilderness? Why fast for 40 days? Why go head-to-head with Satan? Why resist all these temptations?
2. For our salvation
3. We see here His unflinching, unyielding, relentless quest for our salvation.
4. Jesus went out there into that scary place for you!
5. Jesus endured the agony of starvation, the isolation of the wilderness, the danger of the wild beasts, the antagonism of the devil for you!
6. Gen.29:20 “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.”
7. It’s very important that you understand what Jesus went through for you – so that you come to grasp His great love for you.
D. A sympathetic Savior who has been tempted in every way like us
1. Heb.2:18 “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
2. Heb.4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
3. When you are exhausted from carrying heavy burdens, remember that He was so exhausted that He fell on His face in the street, without the strength to carry His burden.
4. When you are in intense physical pain, remember His pain.
5. When you feel betrayed by a friend, remember His betrayal.
6. When you feel abandoned by God, remember the One who cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
7. When you are ridiculed and scorned, remember what they did to Jesus.
8. When everyone abandons you and you are left all alone, remember Jesus.