Lesson 16: The Temptation of Jesus
Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 16. The temptation of Jesus. May I take time out to congratulate you on your interest and your endurance? It takes a lot of both to stay with a study like this. I hope you are enjoying the course. May I appeal to you to enroll others? We need your help. You know among your family, friends, neighbors and associates; who needs this course. Would you take the time to enroll them and get them started? By the time they get started, YOU are going to be well along in this course. So, you can be an inspiration to your associates. These lessons will be fresh in your mind and you can help them with their questions. Please take the time, today, and tomorrow, and the days following to call others and enroll others. You can be of great service.
O.K. back to the drawing board. Are you keeping the passages we've covered marked as we talked about in the beginning? At this point you should have the first three chapters of Matthew marked, high-lighted or however you do it. In Mark we've covered 11 verses. We've covered three chapters in Luke, with the exception of v.19-20 in the third chapter. In John, we covered 34 verses. Now, let's get down to the temptation of Jesus. Let's start with two verses in Mark, Mark 1:12-13. Are you ready? Let's read! "And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him." Alright, Mark as usual is very brief. Take a minute to connect this up with v.9-10-11 up above. Jesus was baptized of John in the Jordan. That baptism was NOT based upon repentance as John was accustomed to preaching. Jesus had NO sins. Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. They prayed there on the river bank (according to Luke 3:21) and the heavens were opened to Jesus. The Spirit of God descended like a dove upon Jesus. The voice came and then Mark says Jesus was driven into the wilderness. Matthew and Luke say "led" of or by the "Spirit". Spirit is there capitalized meaning the third person of the Godhead or Holy Spirit. Where was he led in the wilderness? We don't know! Simply a desolate and unpopulated place. How long? Forty days! He was with the wild beasts. Two more things: (1) he WAS tempted of Satan, (2) angels ministered unto him. Now, of course, you want to know WHY? What was the purpose? And what was accomplished? But, Mark doesn't tell us that.
However, Matthew and Luke put a little more meat on Mark's skeleton outline. Let's begin with Matthew. Then, we'll read Luke before we discuss Matthew. Are you ready? Matthew 4:1 beginning. Eleven verses. Are you ready? "The was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
O.K. Now Luke! Beginning in Luke 4:1. Luke has 13 verses. Let's read, beginning in v.1, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into the high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." Alright, John doesn't record this event.
The Bible teaches through and through that God has an arch-enemy known as Satan or the Devil. These words mean the same thing. They means simply, ADVERSARY or ENEMY. The Word "Devil" is a Greek form of that word and "Satan" is the Hebrew form. Thus, the word "Satan" is used both in the O.T. and the N.T. But, the word "Devil" is used ONLY in the N.T. Mark said Satan. Matthew and Luke both said devil. Now, where did Satan come from? Get it straight, the Bible doesn't say. Someone is going to say, now, Satan is a fallen angel...Have you heard that? Forget it, it's an old wives tale. The word Lucifer occurs only once in the entire Bible, Isa. ch. 14. Isaiah applied that name to the king of Tyre. But some one started a rumor about that fallen angel bit. YES! But, Bro. Horsley, Jesus did see Satan fall from heaven in Luke 10:18! Now, I admit, that's a difficult verse; but it doesn't tell you one thing about the origin of Satan. Read it again! Read OUT-OF-IT! Don't read IN-TO-IT! Jude 6 and II Pet. 2:3 say "angels", NOT Satan. So, don't let somebody unload that bunch of rubbish. Like I said, we don't know where Satan came from. We don't know where God came from. Don't that make you mad? Jesus tells us in Matt. 25:41 where Satan is going; but, we don't know where he came from. In Gen. ch. 3, we learned about the SERPENT that beguiled Eve. "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" "Ye SHALL NOT surely die." Satan tempted Eve. Adam and Even succumbed to that temptation. Here in Matt. 4 and Luke 4, God's arch-enemy, Satan, tried the same trick. But it didn't work.
Jesus was tempted of Satan; but Jesus didn't sin, like Adam and Eve did. There is a difference in SIN and TEMPTATION. Don't miss that difference! If Jesus had sinned, IT would have rendered him incapable of becoming our Saviour. Why was Jesus tempted? Heb. 2:8 says, "in that he himself suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." It gave Jesus SOMETHING that he needed to be our Saviour. God gave his Son for US to save US from sin. There is a great lesson to US in these verses. That lesson teaches us how to handle temptation. Temptation is NOT sin. Sin is a result of succumbing to temptation. But, it's possible to meet a thousand temptation and not sin. So, the good book warns us and admonishes us a thousand places. James 4:7 admonishes us: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Eph. 4:27 says we are not to give place to the devil. Paul teaches us in II Cor. 2:11 that we are to forgive AND to forgive in the person of Christ [Why Paul] "lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." Peter described this adversary, the devil "as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour." But, these verses teach us that IF we RESIST Satan, that old lion will leave us alone. That is precisely what Jesus did here in Matthew and Luke. When Jesus persistently resisted the devil, Matt. 4:11 said, "the devil leaveth him." Luke said, "When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." (4:13). Satan stalks his prey from their weakest point. So, he'll be back to check-you-out. Faith is an invisible bond between man and God. Satan will do everything in his power to break that bond. Now, we are not tempted of God, for God does not tempt any man, that's James 1:13. But, just like the temptation of Jesus, God PERMITS us to be tempted of Satan. And, just like the temptation of Jesus, we will be better when we have resisted temptation. I repeat, temptation is NOT sin. SIN is the result of succumbing to TEMPTATION. James said, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." (James 1:2-3). Then down in v.12, James said: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive a crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." In other words, if we overcome temptation, we'll be rewarded. James plainly says, "every man is tempted.." When are we tempted James? "When [we are] drawn away of [our] own lust, and enticed." ENTICED? Did you get that word? So, the devil didn't make you do it! Enticed means we are persuaded, aroused and attracted by our own hopes and desires of some pleasure or reward. Listen to James1 analogy: "when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (Jas. 1:15). You see, the offspring of lust is SIN. Then when sin finally matures it'll kill ye. James is talking about spiritual death. But, then on the other side of that coin is reward with spiritual life; i.e. IF lust is avoided and sin is NOT produced. Thus, sin will not kill you; if sin is not produced. And, sin won't be produced if lust does not conceive. So, how do we stay away from lust? FLEE! Flee from the devil! The devil will flee from you. That's what James said.
Now, you may think we have departed from Matthew and Luke. But, Jesus here simply demonstrates what those other scriptures teach. We are not told how the old roaring lion approached Jesus. To Eve, he appeared as a serpent, the most subtitle animal of the field. He may have appeared to Jesus as an angel, I don't know. But, Satan always selects the form that will appeal to your weakest point. And, Jesus was no exception. Jesus WAS tempted! Matthew says Jesus, "fasted forty days and forty nights." Luke said, "he did eat nothing." Now, I have never fasted 40 hours, let alone 40 days. Moses did this (Ex. 34:28). Elijah did this (I Kings 19:8). It is said as a rule of thumb, that a person can go only three minutes without air, three days without water, but if one is healthy to start with, they can go up to three months without food. That sounds incredible to me; but I suppose it's true. As ironic as it sounds; I'm told that one who fasts goes through stages when they have no appetite at all. But, at other stages the desire becomes extremely acute. From what we know about Satan, you can figure out what stage Jesus must have been in, at the end of 40 days. "If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread." Can't you just see the devil holding up a rock that resembled a loaf of bread? "If thou be the Son of God." Jesus WAS the Son of God. And Satan was right, Jesus had the power to merely speak to that stone and change it to bread, the very best of bread. Jesus later demonstrated this by feeding five thousand. So, why did Jesus NOT do it here? We must NEVER obey the devil, it's just that simple. No compromise! Regardless of the extreme! There's a great lesson here. There is more to a man than flesh and blood. A man has spiritual and psychological needs that are just as important as food, YEA! more important! You see, Satan was trying to discount the spiritual nature of man. Satan was saying: Compromise Jesus! Take advantage of your spiritual nature, and use It to the lust of the flesh. Do you get the lesson? Observe something here! Jesus and his apostles OR any that were given miraculous powers; NEVER (never one time) EVER used those powers to benefit themselves personally. Miracles were never bought and sold like the fakeries of today. Miraculous powers were used for one purpose and ONE PURPOSE only! That was to teach man about the presence and nature of God. It distinguished the workings of God from the workings of men. THESE are the first recorded words of Jesus' personal ministry. The first concept that Jesus taught was that man must LIVE by EVERY WORD of God (Luke 4:4). We Can’t pick and choose. We cannot obey what we like AND skip what we don't like. It's the greatest and most basic Bible principle we'll ever learn. We must live by EVER WORD "that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4). And Jesus didn't just give the principle, Jesus demonstrated it.
Alright, Satan is persistent, he made two more attempts here before he left Jesus. The order of these two attempts are reversed in Matthew and Luke. I don't know why! It tells you this: these writers put priority upon Jesus' teaching, NOT order of presentation. Look at v.5-6-7-8 in Luke. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdom of the world in a moment of time; power, respect, money, sex, ease, and plenty of good food. How did Satan do that? I don't know! Does Satan have these things in his power and his domain? You better believe it! Satan is well stocked. It may be temporary, but it's true. It says plainly that Satan tempted Jesus. There would have been no temptation, if Satan didn't have that power. Satan is the father of lies, YES! But, it's also true that Satan tempted Jesus. And Jesus met every temptation with a quotation. "Man does not live by bread alone..." (Deut. 8:3). "Get behind me, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Deut. 6:13, a summation of the first three of the ten commandments.)
And, then Satan tried again (v.9-10-11-12). This time Satan quoted Psalms 91:11. What's the message? Satan can quote scripture too! So, don't be taken in. Partial scripture can be just as dangerous as being unscriptural. That is inherent in the statement that man must live by EVER WORD (up in v.4). Jesus didn't buy it; he quoted Deut. 6:11. Now, if you'll analyze close; you discover that Satan tried it all: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Satan, knows how it done; you better believe it. And as long as you live in this old world, you're vulnerable.
Can you visualize the condition that Jesus must have been in, in that wilderness? No food for 40 days. Temptation after temptation. Possibly he could not provide for his own needs. Yet, it does not say that Jesus requested these angels. They were sent from the unseen realm, based upon, I believe, a great scriptural principle; stated in I Cor. 10:13. "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it." That's a great promise! When pain becomes intense enough; our nervous system temporarily becomes un-plugged. We are said to faint, or pass-out. Or death may sweep us away to that eternal realm. Jesus reached that limit and the angels came. Have a good day!