The temptations of Jesus

“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:1-13).

This is one of the greatest stories in the Bible because it shows how relatable Christ is to us.  You may have heard it said that the greatest warrior leaders are those who lead from the front, not being afraid to ride into combat with their army. You may also have heard it said that business leaders should never ask their employees to do anything they are unwilling to do themselves. The idea is that they can only understand the plight of the warrior or worker if they have walked in their boots, so to speak. It is also true that we have immense respect for leaders who are willing to display such courage and conviction. Moreover, it has been proven both on the battlefield and in the boardroom that those they are in charge of will be much more motivated to follow them into battle, no matter the dangers, because of their example.

Jesus was willing to place himself in the path of temptation so that the great “I am” could personally experience what we do every day of our lives. It may not be food we hunger for, but rather money, power, and fame, but we still hunger. It may not be that we bow down to worship the devil as such, but when we bow down to the gods of money, power, and fame, we may as well be worshipping him. And it may not be that we will throw ourselves down from a high place, but when we step off into the abyss of sin and darkness, we are indeed throwing ourselves down from the highest place.  Tragically, we then think that we can prevent ourselves from getting hurt because we are “in control,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus suffered the temptations so He could experience our suffering, but He also did it to show us a better way than acquiescing to them.

His resilience and fortitude against the wily ways of the devil proved to us that with faith in God, we too can resist him who desires our demise. James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Jesus proved that He is a warrior king who will not expect us to undergo temptation that He did not experience firsthand. He fought the battles we fight, but those He fought were even more intense, facing the enemy directly. However, we are painfully aware that we are not perfect, and unlike our Savior, we give in to temptation from time to time.  And because our leader is not only perfect but also gracious and merciful, that will not spell our doom if we are willing to repent.  The experience Jesus went through surely showed him just how difficult it is for us to resist temptation, so He has great patience with our weaknesses – and we thank God for that.

We thus do not worship a Creator who does not understand us.  We have a God who sent His only Son to actually be one of us so that He could know the battles we face from our vantage point.  Oh, and you know those warrior leaders who lead from the front? Well, sometimes they face great danger and even death, just like Christ Jesus did for us. He was willing to give His life to save us. And, you know what the very best part about that is? Our warrior king has defeated the enemy already, so we know that with loyalty to Christ, our victory is assured.

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