Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

The Temptation of Jesus

The three synoptic gospels (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; and Luke 4:1-13) record the temptation of Jesus following His baptism in the Jordan River. Mark records only that He was in the wilderness for forty days, and there tempted by Satan. Matthew and Luke record three specific temptations, and agree exactly in both the nature of the temptations and Jesus’ response to them. We will use Matthew’s account here.

The temptation of our Lord was a necessary part of his experience on earth. The Hebrews writer said that “in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God” (2:17). As such, in that He “has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (2:18).

Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, and after fasting for forty days, “the tempter came to Him.” Both Matthew and Luke record the words of Jesus in response to those temptations of Satan.

It Is Written

There are two significant things to note about Jesus’ responses. The first thing is that Jesus consistently responded to Satan by quoting scripture. This tactic gives us a wonderful example to follow. A study of God’s word is not simply an intellectual exercise, devoid of benefit. When a child of God familiarizes himself with God’s word, he equips himself to fight against the devil. Remember that the word of God is a part of the Christian’s armor (the “sword of the spirit”), and the apostle Paul encourages us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). This is the strategy used by our Lord, and one we would do well to emulate. The second significant thing to note in Jesus’ response to Satan is that there was always a scripture available to answer the temptations with which He was beset. Jesus’ replies were not answers derived from the wisdom of man. They were supplied by God’s word, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Notice Jesus’ answers below:

Man Shall Not Live by Bread Alone

Satan first attempted to tempt Jesus through the weakness of the flesh. Jesus was extremely hungry after His extended fast, and the devil encouraged Him to use His divine power to turn stones to bread. Notice, however, the challenge of the devil, “If You are the Son of God…”

Herein lies the temptation. Our Lord knew well the faithfulness of God. He knew that God would give Him what was needful for His welfare and sustenance. To use His divine ability as a “shortcut” to alleviate His human suffering, or to prove His standing as God’s Son, was not in keeping with His purpose to come and suffer as a man. Jesus never utilized His miraculous power to alleviate His hunger, thirst, weariness, grief or suffering. He had His priorities straight. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

You Shall Not Tempt the Lord Your God

Next Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem. He challenged Jesus to “throw Yourself down” to again prove He was God’s son. Some might think it would have been appropriate for Jesus to do just that, to shut the mouth of the devil.

However, such a test would not have been proper. It would have been wrong for Jesus to hazard His life to test God’s promise of protection to Him. Jesus knew of God’s power and love for His Son. To put God to the test would be have been presumptuous. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

You Shall Worship the Lord Your God

Finally, Satan took him to a high mountain, and promised him the kingdoms of the world. All Jesus had to do to gain it all was to worship Satan .

In banishing the devil, Jesus stated His allegiance to His Father in Heaven. His kingdom was to be spiritual, not material. Where the Devil had only the temporal to offer, Jesus’ had received the promise of the eternal kingdom from His Father (cf. Acts 5:31). “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” So, Satan left Jesus for a season, having failed to shake His faithful devotion to His Father’s cause.