” Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil.”Luke 4:1-2
I am constantly amazed by the Scriptures. You can read the same passage for years and then one day it shows you something new. The temptation of Christ was one of my daily readings today, and I was pulled up short by a thought I’d never considered before. That, in turn, led to some additional thoughts.
With the second temptation, Satan offers Jesus the splendor and authority of all the kingdoms of the world which he claimed had been given over to me, if only Jesus would worship him (it shows that Satan lies, even to himself). It’s often written that the temptation for Jesus was the chance to bypass the cross, which was probably true. However, it would have been a hollow, meaningless victory. What struck me this morning was this: Satan had no idea what was about to happen. He had been at war with heaven since time immemorial and was aware that God wanted to destroy and defeat him. But Satan really believed he had authority over all the earth because of sin, so he was blind to what God was about to do through the cross. Jesus understood who had the REAL authority (Matthew 28:18), sealed by His suffering, death and resurrection.
It’s also interesting that this is the only temptation that Satan doesn’t preface with the words, “If you are the Son of God”. In the other two temptations, Satan questions whether Jesus really is who he claims to be. In those two instances, he is essentially saying, “Prove it. You claim to have status and authority; go ahead and use it for your own benefit.” But in the second temptation, Satan claims to BE the authority over the world and magnanimously offers some of it to Jesus in exchange for His recognition of Satan’s claim. It’s Satan’s modus operandi: he’ll give you a little of his power in exchange for your soul. It’s a horrible bargain, offered at a terrible price.
The devil’s temptations are the same for everyone, in that they fall into one of three categories: the lust of the eye (the second temptation), the lust of the flesh (the first), and the pride of life (the third). Jesus didn’t argue with Satan or attempt to claim any power or authority over him. Instead, he chose to let the Scriptures refute the devil’s offers. God’s word is powerful, more than a match for the attacks of the devil if we will incorporate it into our hearts, minds, and lives.
The most important lesson to be learned is this. When we are confronted with temptation (and if you draw breath, you will be), if you belong to Jesus Christ, He will be there standing alongside you, helping and encouraging you to overcome it. We can also take courage in the fact that He understands exactly what we are facing, because He went through the same thing. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) And finally, we need to let the word of God dwell in us richly; let it be health and life to you, and let it be your answer when you fall under the attack of temptation.