“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”
After his baptism and the heavenly pronouncement, which must have been a wonderful moment for Jesus, he faced his first test of character. And it was titanic. The story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness is found at the beginning of Luke 4 and Matthew 4.
I’ve been on extended fasts before, though they often degraded into “mostly” fasts. Forty days without any food … now that’s really, really tough. When I’ve fasted “successfully”, I experienced moments of amazing clarity and breakthrough, but many times I just felt weak and listless.
The biggest temptation for me was to “cheat” and snack on something. Take a shortcut, nobody would know.
Jesus had a much more intense set of temptations to fight off. But he faced the same ones we face, and much more.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says that
“No temptations have come upon you except what is common to man.”
Satan’s plan of attack was more seduction than coercion. His basic strategy is a common temptation for us all, and he tried it out on a very human guy named Jesus
“Take a shortcut, you can justify it, no one will know.”
Satan challenged the now-publicly-proclaimed identity of Jesus, subtly trying to undermine his self-esteem and get his head spinning with doubt.
“If you are the Son of God ….”
Our enemy, the devil, is always trying to attack two things: our identity and our destiny.
“… turn the stones into bread”
Jesus was had not eaten anything in 40 days. He must have been physically weak and His willpower would have been low. He was HUNGRY! The devil’s temptation was essentially for Jesus to abuse his power and meet his legitimate need in an illegitimate way.
Jesus deflected the temptation with God’s word.
It is written … Man does not live by bread alone.
Next, the devil upped his game. “Worship me and you can have all the bright shiny stuff there is …”
Satan’s idea of a “win” is to control your worship, to have you worship anything other than the One True God and the only One worthy of worship.
Again, Jesus counterpunched with the word of God. “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
Finally, the Devil presented a distortion of scripture to seduce Christ with a big shortcut. “Jump off the cliff and you will be famous. Mission accomplished No cross, no shame, no suffering, no death. Do a magic trick instead.”
Now if you’re trying to understand Satan, a dude with a totally anti-God agenda, the way he was misinterpreting scripture sorta made sense. This is the world’s way of doing things, to twist and bend and manipulate.
But Jesus responded with a better theology.
“The word says ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Ka-pow. The devil had taken his three best shots and struck out.
He was out of ammo to tempt him, so he left Jesus.
The pressure was off, until next time.
The practical application Jesus modeled for us is how to fight off the most severe temptations when you are at your weakest.
The key is not willpower, it’s scripture power.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,
Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
When you find yourself in times of temptation, especially when it’s intense, fight back – repeatedly, frequently and primarily, with the very word of God.
“It is written ….”
Father your word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our paths. Help to meditate upon your word, to remember your word, to speak forth your word and be a people of your word and of your Spirit. May your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For the sake of Yeshua-Hamashiach, and in the name of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Daily Worship Devotionals is a 5-minute podcast dedicated to studying the Word of God and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Currently, we are following the Christian year calendar as our framework. We’re in the season of Epiphany – the Season of Light and exploring the early life of Christ.