Title: The approval of the King through His temptation
Scriptures to Read: Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13
Yesterday we saw the approval of the King through His baptism. Today we see the approval of the King through His temptation.
Recorded order of temptations
If you take time to read the two accounts of Matthew and Luke, you will notice that the order of the temptations is different. We follow Luke’s account because he alone claims to put his account into chronological sequence. Matthew’s order is different because he follows the theme of the kingdom and therefore saves the temptation about the kingdoms of the world for last.
Purpose of Jesus temptation
Now, what was the purpose of the temptation? Both God and Satan had their purpose.
What was Satan’s purpose? Satan’s purpose is to cause him to sin in order to disqualify him from making the atonement. What was God’s purpose? God the Father has just declared to Israel that Jesus is His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. And now from God’s perspective the purpose of the temptation is to prove the sinlessness of the Son.
Jesus was tempted as the believer’s representative
Notice that Jesus is tempted as our representative to show us how we should deal with temptations.
Jesus was tempted in all areas or in every way that we are
Hebrews 4:15 says: “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” What does it mean when it says that He was tempted “in every respect” as we are? Have you ever been tempted to change stones into bread? No. We will never be tempted to do that because Satan won’t waste his time tempting us to do things we cannot do anyway. For us, this would not be a real temptation. But for Jesus it was a real temptation because He could change stones into bread. On the other hand, He was not tempted to waste His whole day watching soap operas on television, or surfing the internet. So again the word does not mean that he suffered every type of temptation that we do any more than we suffer every type of temptation that he did. Rather, the word translated ‘every respect’ refers to areas. So He was tempted in all areas or in every way that we are tempted.
Jesus was tempted in three areas
In 1 John 2:16 we see that there are three areas of temptation:
1. The lust of the flesh (Luke 4:3-4)
Which of the three areas of temptation is this? The temptation to change stones into bread occurred at the end of a forty day fast. At this point his flesh was hungry. It was the will of God the Father to satisfy His hunger at this point of time, but it was not the will of God for Him to use his messianic power for self-gratification.
2. The lust of the eyes (Luke 4:5-8)
Jesus is shown a satanic vision. This is the lust of the eyes. Jesus could see all of the kingdoms of the world, and Satan says, I will give you my authority over all these kingdoms if you will worship me. Does Satan have the authority to give all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus? Yes (See verse 6). Now is it the will of the Father for the Son to rule over the kingdoms of this world? Yes, this is in fact God’s intention, but how did God intend Jesus to achieve this? The means of obtaining the authority to rule over all the kingdoms of this world will be by the cross and not by means of worshiping Satan. And Satan was using a short cut to this messianic goal, avoiding the cross. This is a good example of illegitimate means to obtain legitimate ends. (The end does not justify the means!)
3. The pride of life (Luke 4:9-12)
Jesus is taken to the pinnacle of the temple at the south east corner, the highest point from top to bottom. And Satan says to him, if you really are the Son of God, prove it to me by jumping off. If he jumped off and floated down people would declare him to be the Messiah. So prove to me that you are the Son of God because Psalm 91 does say if the Messiah stumbles the angels will catch him so be cannot be hurt before his time. This is a temptation in the area of the pride of life, because He was asked to prove that He was the Messiah.
Resist the Devil and he will flee
Luke verse 13 says “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” The word, “every”, is the same Greek word translated “every respect” in Hebrews 4:15. Again it means in all areas or in every way. When the devil had finished tempting Jesus in all three areas, he left him. That illustrates another teaching, that if we resist Satan he will flee from us. But it also points out that every victory is temporary. Notice the last phrase: until an opportune time. Eventually he will come back and tempt us again.
Jesus was tempted as Israel’s representative
But what is often missed is that He also plays another representative role in His temptation. In His temptations Jesus was representing Israel. In this section we can see five points of similarity between Israel and Jesus:
1. Son of God
First, the use of the term “Son of God”. Israel is called the Son of God in Exodus 4:22-23 & Hosea 11:1.
Both testings occur in the wilderness. 1 Cor. 10:1-13 points out that the journey in the wilderness was a time of testing. Now He is being tested and tempted in the wilderness or desert.
The figure 40. For Israel it was 40 years. For Jesus it was 40 days (Numbers 32:13).
4. The Holy Spirit
The presence of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 63:11-14 points out that the Spirit was present with Israel in the wilderness. The first verse of each of these gospel accounts points out that the Spirit was with him in the wilderness.
When Jesus quotes from the Old Testament He only quotes from one book, the fifth book of Moses, the book of Deuteronomy. Why is that? Deuteronomy is not merely repeating what Moses wrote previously, but is actually God’s covenant book with Israel. It is a covenantal arrangement. And so, because Jesus represents Israel in His temptation, He quotes only from the book of Deuteronomy. Now, the point of all this is to show that where Israel as a nation had failed, the ideal Israelite, Jesus the Messiah, succeeded. And He became Israel’s substitute, not only in these temptations, but also as the final substitute, the final sacrifice for sin.