Perhaps one of the first teachings that Jesus gave was by example:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness
during forty days, being tempted of the devil. And he did eat nothing in those days: and when they were completed, he hungered.
And the devil said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread.
And Jesus answered unto him, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.
And he led him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
If thou therefore wilt worship before me, it shall all be thine.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
And he led him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to guard thee:
and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.
And when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him for a season.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and a fame went out concerning him through all the region round about. [Luke 4:1-14]
In verse one we see that Jesus was led of the spirit in this ordeal. We also know that this happened immediately after the spirit descended upon him and the father spoke at his baptism. He was led of the spirit to fast for 40 days. As the verse says he was very hungry.
Jesus was tempted with food to break the fast because he was obviously very hungry, with power and glory to be over all the kingdom’s which were now in the devil’s power, and with acting out in pride by jumping out foolishly and commanding angels to catch him.
In each case Jesus quoted from the word of God. In response to the temptation to change of the stones to bread, he quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3:
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live. [Deut 8:3]
In response to the temptation to worship the devil in order to receive all the power of the kingdoms with all of their glory he quoted Deuteronomy 6:3:
Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God; and him shalt thou serve, and shalt swear by his name. [Deut 6:13]
In response to the temptation to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple, Jesus quoted Deut 6:16
You shall not tempt Jehovah your God [Deut 6:16 NKJV]
Seeing as Jesus’ first response was that man that needed to live by every word that came out of the mouth of God, he taught this by living by every word that came out of the mouth of God in these three temptations.
There are numerous hypotheses about what the temptations mean. Some say that these temptations were ways that he could show he was the Messiah in manifesting his power to feed the hungry, rule kingdoms, and display a great miraculous power. Certainly those are things that we might be tempted with. The book of Hebrews says that Jesus was tempted in all ways, yet was without sin.
There are certainly a lot of points that could be made about these particular temptations. For example, just because someone is a believer should they take risks quoting the verse that says that God has numbered the hairs on their head? That looks a lot like the third temptation above where Jesus says we’re not to try the Lord. Or how about “understandable” sins like stealing food? The first temptation and response would lead us to follow the track that we should believe that God will provide.
But, in fact, the details and meanings of the temptations are not explained. What is explained is Jesus’ response. Jesus responded to temptation by saying and doing the word of God.
That is the lesson to us.
© copyright 2010-20 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.