Humans are most susceptible to temptation when we’re at our weakest, Jesus was no exception.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
When I reflect on sin and temptation in my own life, one of the things I often forget is that the devil is an active and cunning enemy. I find that on this side of the cross, in a place where the supernatural seems somewhat outlandish or disconnected from day to day life, I forget that Jesus’ temptation was a very human thing. In verses 1-2 of Luke 4, we see Jesus go alone into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. In the wilderness he is tempted by Satan in all manner of ways, and yet he never gives in. But if you look at the manner in which Jesus is tempted, you will notice that the devil is very intentional about the way he tempts Jesus. When Jesus is hungry (v2) the devil encourages him to feed himself (v3), when Jesus is in a desolate place the devil offers him splendid kingdoms (v5), and when Jesus is lonely the devil encourages him to test the goodness of God (v9). My point in all of this, is that Satan hits where it hurts most. As God himself, Jesus was perfect and able to resist temptation, and triumph over Satan. Unfortunately, we as sinful humans often don’t do so well, and we fall into the temptation to sin without any fight at all.
Often, when I observe this in my own life, I realise that it’s because I’m not fighting properly. When Jesus resists, he resists by turning to God. Every time Jesus is tempted to succumb to the devil’s words, he re-establishes his position with God’s word. When we fight temptation, I think we often forget how well-armed we are. We have access to the word of the all-powerful God of the universe and we can appeal to Him through prayer.
The beauty of Jesus’ temptation is that he understands us. When we pray to God, we’re not praying to some distant being, we’re praying to a God who can relate to us, who experienced our struggles and did not give in. Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Head: Jesus resisted temptation by relying on scripture, what does this look like in your life? (e.g. memorising verses)
Heart: When do you seek comfort outside of God? Does it really help?
Hands: Think about when in the day you find it hardest to resist sin, what are some ways you can be intentional about relying on God in those specific situations?
Prayer: Father, today I will face the temptation to sin. Help me to turn to you and remember that you know what I’m going through. Amen.
A song to listen to: Cornerstone