Following Jesus • 31 / Facing temptation

Read This: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13

Today’s passage begins like a horror movie. A man, alone in a desolate place, encounters the most evil creature who ever lived. Satan.

Yet, it wasn’t anything like that. The man in the story is the Creator of the universe. He even created this creature, and has complete authority over him. Nevertheless, there is tension here. The Devil is challenging the man. Laying snares, as is his practice (e.g., Eve, Job).

The Bible uses the word temptations to describe this chapter of Jesus’ story. They take place over a forty-day period, and culminate with the three examples that are recorded. We know there were more, and that they didn’t end with this episode since He was tempted in every way we are.

These temptations are consistent with those experienced by Eve and Job. They call into question God’s goodness, power, wisdom, and love. Out of context, they may seem like softballs, but no temptation is without teeth (which we’ll explore in our next episode).

After forty days without food, Jesus is hungry. If you’ve experienced prolonged fasting, you know how He felt. And since God was responsible for leading Him into the wilderness, Jesus was in a situation not of His own making. Satan probed at this.

God isn’t providing for you. He led you here, but He’s not meeting your needs. It’s time you took matters into your own hands.

These people don’t know who you are. Show them!

And if you really want to be Lord of this place, why not simply ask me? I’ll give it to you right now!

God’s Spirit doesn’t lead along paths we would choose. His ways don’t make sense to us. His promises seem elusive. We expect victory but traffic in suffering. What seemed certain yesterday seems unlikely tomorrow.

Temptation appeals to the way things seem to us. Therein lies its sinister power. So Jesus rooted His responses in a different authority. He turned to Scripture for what was objectively true in each situation.

As followers of Jesus Christ, this is another core principle of discipleship. Scripture is our reference point for what is true.