The Temptation of Jesus

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The temptation of Jesus, by the devil, occurred in the fall of 26 A.D. Recorded in the books of Matthew and Luke (Mark only referenced it in Mark 1:12 - 13), it took place immediately after his baptism at the hands of John the Baptist.

´╗┐Many who quickly read the Bible erroneously believe Jesus was the target of temptation on only three occasions while he was in the Judean wilderness. The three found in the gospels, however, took place toward the end of his fasting and represented only the greatest assaults leveled at him. The Biblical truth is that Satan's temptation of Jesus was continuous during his forty days of unfettered access to him (Mark 1:13, Luke 4:2).

The first temptation both Matthew (Matthew 4:3 - 4) and Luke (Luke 4:3) mention appealed to Jesus' humanity and his need to eat food. It also poked at any vanity he might have regarding his identity as God's son. It should be noted that the devil always uses his wealth of information about vanity in any temptation he pursues. This is because He is keenly aware of its effectiveness since it was the primary sin that turned him into God's great adversary (Ezekiel 28:11 - 17, Isaiah 14:12 - 15).

When the devil leveled a temptation to Jesus by stating, "If You are the Son of God . . ." (Matthew 4:3, HBFV throughout), he was slyly casting doubt about his identity and asking him to prove it. He knew that Christ was the Messiah. He no doubt heard the booming words of the Father, uttered at the Lord's baptism which stated, "This is My Son, the Beloved, in Whom I have great delight" (Matthew 3:17).

Temptation on the Mountain
Temptation on the Mountain
Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308 - 11

Matthew's second (Matthew 4:5 - 7), but Luke's third (Luke 4:9 - 11) challenge involved Jerusalem's temple. The devil is allowed to transport Jesus to the temple's edge, which was at least 700 feet (213 meters) above the valley below it. He then states, "If You are the Son of God, cast Yourself down . . ." An appeal is made, yet again, to vanity. Satan wanted the Lord to intentionally and willfully test his Father's love. This, of course, would have been a sin (Deuteronomy 6:16).

The last temptation recorded in Matthew (the second in Luke) reveals some interesting information regarding Satan. After showing Jesus the glory of the earth's kingdoms he makes a startling promise, "I will give You all this authority, and the glory of them all; for it has been delivered to me . . . IF You will worship me . . ." (Luke 4:6 - 7).

God, after Lucifer fulfilled his role as a covering cherub (Ezekiel 28:14), gave him a throne over the earth (Isaiah 14:13). He retained this throne, and its authority, after his sinned (John 12:31, 2Corinthians 4:3 - 4, Ephesians 2:1). Satan's final temptation offered Jesus immediate rule over all humans without having to endure more trials and a painful death by crucifixion. It was rejected, in part, because the Lord knew he had to die as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humans to be forgiven.

Thankfully, Jesus rejected the temptation to sin and commanded his enemy leave him (Matthew 4:10). He then recovered his physical strength with the help of righteous angels (verse 11) and returned to the place he was baptized (John 1:28). The trials and testing he endured prepared him to begin the public aspect of his ministry in the spring of 27 A.D.

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