The Temptation to Test God
The three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness with Satan are just that: the three recorded ones. We could call them three OF the temptations of Jesus based on other pieces of evidence we find in at least two places. In Luke 4:13, we read, “When the devil had finished every (single) temptation, he (Satan) departed from Him (Jesus) until an opportune time.” In Hebrews 4:15, we read, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things (ways, areas) as we are yet without sin.”
Jesus certainly met Satan head-on many other times during His work on earth. Take comfort in the fact that Satan NEVER won. These three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness are definitely not ALL of them! These three particular temptations certainly cover the range of possibilities:
Putting my own needs first (turn these stones to bread)
Using God’s power for my own glory (throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple)
Accepting anything less than total commitment to God (fall down and worship Satan)
The enemy was certainly chomping at the bit to charge full speed ahead to destroy this brand-new ministry of Jesus. As last week’s lesson made clear, the Holy Spirit Himself, in full agreement with God the Father, compelled Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil immediately after Jesus was baptized. The battle lines were drawn during those 40 food-less days and nights. The outcome of the conflict had already been determined. Satan lost the victory and gained a preview of his own outcome as enemy of the plan of God.
With the first temptation, Satan attacked everything that might afflict things inwardly: thoughts, intentions, hungers, anguish, desires, etc. With this second temptation, Satan aimed for how others would see Jesus from the outside. If Jesus had acquiesced to even one scintilla of an iota of this temptation, His ministry would have been immediately rendered ineffective and therefore it would be destroyed before it ever began!
Satan would grasp at any available straw to avoid Calvary. He was well aware that Jesus, in fulfillment of all prophecy, had been born to die as a sacrifice for ALL sin. Satan was standing before his Destroyer! Satan proves here that he knows scripture. Just like Job, Jesus was turned over to this arch enemy in full permission of God. Job worshipped God with human obedience. Jesus worshipped God with total obedience, even unto death.
Jesus proved that we should never “test” God. You might say, well in Malachi 3:10, God tells us to “test” Him! Remember…that subject in context was obedience in giving the tithe to the storehouse as God had commanded. God is saying we should test Him in the area of obedience.
Jesus did exactly that in the wilderness. He proved His willingness to serve God inwardly, outwardly, and worshipfully. Jesus refused any form of compromise to the mission He came to fulfill. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus placed the will of the Father before any of the excruciating pain He was about to endure on Thursday night and Friday all the way to sunset. Would it be that the Lord would give us the courage every day to declare, “Father, not MY will but THY will be done!”
Satan took Jesus to the southeast corner of the temple in Jerusalem. Looking down from that point to the street would measure about 500 feet. Jesus could also have been SEEN from most vantage points in the city. Some say this would have been a vision not a reality. I believe Jesus was actually standing there being offered the “WOW” spot. Satan was offering Him a place to wow the known world in the holiest city on earth.
Jesus had answered the first fiery dart of temptation by silencing Satan with scripture moments before. So, next, Satan led with scripture from Psalm 91:11-12. My paraphrase here… “Take a flying leap and throw yourself down, Jesus. The angels will catch you! You won’t even stump your holy toe!” Again, Jesus refused to sin against His Father by taking a swan dive off the temple. Why would Jesus accept the spectacular in front of people when He was designed to accomplish the miraculous on behalf of people?! Satan was not very smart.
The context of Deuteronomy 6 which Jesus quoted here was also an event set in the wilderness. About 1200 BC, the people were on their way to the land of promise led by Moses and Joshua. They were set on returning to Egypt and bondage rather than freedom because their personal needs and wants were not being met in the way they desired. Moses reminds them of their lack of obedience and their desire to have their needs gratified according to their standards. They were devoid of trust in God. Thank goodness, Jesus was chock FULL of reliance on His Father and completely led and comforted by the Holy Spirit.
Game. Set. Match.
Yes, Calvary’s coming.
Dance while you can on Saturday.
Watch out for that rolling stone.
Son, you done stumped more than your toe.