Saturday, January 12, 2008

Matthew 4:1 The Temptation of Jesus Part I

Jesus Christ provides the perfect example of faithfulness to God our Father in scripture. It is such an encouragement to read how He faced temptation by Satan and consistently obeyed God’s will. As Christians, we will fail at times when faced with temptation. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit we too can have victory in trials just as Christ did. As we examine this scenario over the next few weeks, I believe God will demonstrate to us through His word how we can have this victory.

First of all, we should observe that this temptation of Jesus was God’s will. Matthew records in verse 1 that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit”. As far as I can tell from having read, this happened immediately after His baptism by John in the Jordan River. He had just publically announced His entry in the His work as the Messiah. Prior to beginning His ministry, God led Him into the wilderness. Notice that Jesus was led by the Spirit. This wasn’t something that He thought up on His own. Christ did not come to do His own will but the will of His Father. God, in His providence, had a plan in mind for this journey. As preparation for the ministry that Christ was about to enter, God wanted to demonstrate that Christ was the faithful Servant who would completely obey Him. In order to demonstrate this, He allowed Satan to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.

We should also note that Jesus was sent alone into a place of solitude. He would have no companions and no comforts. He would demonstrate the truth of His incarnation and His willingness to be obedient to God the Father in a setting which would seem to give His adversary an advantage. This was no vacation or pleasure trip that our Lord entered upon but rather it was a solemn time of reflection and preparation.

The word translated “tempt” is the Greek word “peirazo”. This word can mean to try or to test. When we are tempted as our Lord was tempted we are being tested. Satan would use this time to try to tempt Jesus to sin and disobey God. God was using this time to demonstrate that Jesus was perfectly obedient and submissive. The Devil (Greek diablos-false accuser) would try to motivate Jesus to be unfaithful by tempting His with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. God would allow Jesus to endure these trials to provide for us a guide to follow when we are tempted. While our Lord had no sin nature that He had to overcome, He had victory over His temptations by the same means we can have victory over our temptations-the word of God.

As Jesus was alone in the wilderness facing the wiles of the Devil, He did not use His divine power to sidestep or overcome those temptations. He met each one head on and engaged the enemy using the sword of the Spirit. When we fail (as I do daily), it is not because I don’t have the means to withstand the temptation. More often than not, I chose to ignore the clear warnings of scripture. Satan had a goal in mind for this encounter with Jesus. God allowed Satan to try to tempt Jesus to sin in order that Jesus might prove Himself to be the perfectly obedient Son in order that He might pay for sin on the cross.

Praise God for the obedience of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

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