After being declared God’s beloved Son, Jesus passed his first test with flying colours, and resisted the devil’s temptations perfectly.
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.
Living as a Christian and striving to obey God and resist temptation in this world is a difficult thing to do. And as, in some ways, the world journeys further and further away from a Christian perspective, it is only becoming a more difficult thing to do.
Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming…the constant nature of the temptations. How they tap into deep desires or wounds in the soul. How they’re carried along by sin that runs deep within the heart.
Maybe, against this backdrop, this passage can provide real comfort. Jesus was led into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. Forty days of constant temptation by the devil in the wilderness! That…sounds intense. However difficult it may feel being tempted by this world, Jesus can more than understand. He endured constant, intense temptation.
Another source of comfort was seeing how Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit as he was tempted. And as Christians, we are too. God can feel quite distant and removed from our struggles with temptation. But God is more than with us, he is in us, by his Spirit.
Another source of comfort, maybe a bit more indirect, was how this struggle comes shortly after Jesus is declared God’s beloved Son, who God is well-pleased with, in 3:22. The fact that it’s a struggle shows that God is with you, fighting against the devil’s temptations with you.
And finally…the forty day period in which Jesus is tempted is a reminder of Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wandering. Instead of falling into sin like God’s people did previously, in the fight against temptation, Jesus passes the test with flying colours. He endured temptation without falling. He lived the perfect life we cannot, so we too can be God’s beloved children, with whom God is well-pleased. We are God’s beloved.
I’ve heard that, in the struggle of battling the world’s temptations, a key thing might be remembering our identity as God’s children. The latter part of this passage brought that to mind, because that’s what the devil questions twice. He says, ‘if you are the Son of God…’ in verses three and nine.
Maybe that’s a key part in our struggle to resist temptation. To remember these things – that Jesus understands our struggle with temptation, that he survived his struggle perfectly, and because of that, we are God’s beloved children, with his Spirit living in us.
Head: What can we learn from this passage about how the Spirit permits or allows the temptation of God’s beloved children?
Heart: How does knowing that Jesus endured his temptation perfectly for you, give you comfort, confidence and assurance in your own battle with temptation?
Hands: What’s one way that you can remind yourself of your identity as God’s beloved child today?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that your Spirit is with me always. Thank you that Jesus lived the perfect life, so that I may be your beloved child. I pray that you would keep that at the forefront of my mind, as I go about the wilderness of this world, with all its temptations. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
A song to listen to: This Life I Live