Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jesus did not Yield to Temptation

The Temptation of Jesus
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'[a]"

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'[b]"

7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'[c]"

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'[d]"

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
(Matthew 4:1-11)

The temptation of Jesus demonstrates to us the humanity of Jesus. Jesus was tempted, which means that these temptations must have had some appeal to him. If the temptations were real, the implication is that they had an enticing power for him. The possibility of disobedience to the will of God cannot be ruled out. He was not somehow immune to temptation. The possibility of yielding to temptation must have been present. Otherwise, the temptations would be mere sham and charade. In that regard Jesus was no different than you and I.

However, in a supremely significant way he faced those temptations differently than many of us do. Jesus did not yield to temptation. He was always obedient to the will of God. You say, "Of course he could do it because he was the Son of God. He had more power at his disposal than you and I have." No, the only power available to him was the power of the Holy Spirit, and that same power is available to us. We can live a life of victory over our temptations as Jesus did, because that same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus can be in us also. That is why it is so important that we see Jesus, throughout these temptations, as truly human in every respect, yet without sin. And that same possibility of living in the Spirit a life of total yieldedness to God is available to us
The three temptations that Jesus faced further point to his humanity.
a. Turn stones to bread. After forty days of fasting surely there was nothing wrong with eating. Why was there a problem with providing food for himself? The tempter was suggesting that Jesus rely on his own power to feed himself. "Take care of yourself. You deserve it." Jesus says, "No. We don't live by bread alone, but by the word of God."
b. Throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple. "God will take care of you. Put God to the test. After all, God promised in Scripture that he would command his angels to bear you up, so that you would not dash your foot against a stone." Here the devil quotes Psalm 91:11-12. "Why not gain a following through sensational miracles. You could really impress people with your miraculous powers." Jesus says, "No. Don't test God."
c. All the kingdoms of the world can be yours. "Bow down to me. I'll give you all this political power. Compromise with evil. What could it hurt to wink a little, cut a few corners? You don't have to be so honest every time. If you want followers, you better compromise with evil. You don't have to speak out against religious hypocrisy so eloquently. If you do, you're not going to get anywhere in this world. If you want to succeed, make friends with the devil and adopt his ways." His answer: "Get behind me Satan."

Throughout his life Jesus was learning the meaning of radical obedience to the will of God. As Hebrews puts it, he learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb 5:8). He was human in every sense of the word. He struggled intensely with what it meant for him to be a faithful Son to God. This is the Jesus of Nazareth that the gospels present to us, a real human being, living a normal human life, and fighting battles with which all of us are familiar.

We are all tempted by things, ideas, and desires that are not the will of God, and consequently, not good for us. We all experience lapses in good judgement that cause us to turn away from God. Evil forces are always out there trying to tempt us to walk down a road to spiritual death. However, the power of God is stronger than all temptations and especially stronger than the forces of evil. We need only to ask for assistance and Jesus will stand with us as we face our spiritual deserts. So the next time you feel yourself yielding to the temptations of life, pray to Jesus. Jesus understands these temptations and will send the Holy Spirit to help you through them, just as the Holy Spirit help him through his earthly and very human temptations.

Peace and love,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

1 comment:

  1. "The possibility of disobedience to the will of God cannot be ruled out" I sincerely agree. Every of those temptation was in line with Power! Stone to Food (Strength) Bow down (Power) Worship Me (Dominion)The good news is Christ overcame by Yielding his authority over Satan