Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
Temptation. It’s a loaded word.
Today, maybe you’re tempted to succumb to that donut sitting in front of you—that fresh, hot, delicious, Krispy Kreme donut. (You weren’t even thinking of one, but now you are, aren’t you?) But you know if you eat it, all that labor of eating green food or resisting sugar was in vain.
Or maybe today the temptation is a much greater provocation. You’re being enticed to give up on a commitment you’ve made to someone or something, and the result of your slip up will be devastating.
Temptation carries many connotations and, typically, we try to categorize temptation casually. It either has to do with food or other simple indulgences. On the other hand, we overdramatize temptation and turn it into something that only happens in dark alleyways.
It’s hard for us to understand that the devil is like a roaring lion who’s looking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We seem to forget that sin is crouching at our door desiring to have us (Genesis 4:7).
But we all recognize the reality of temptation—and behind such temptation is our great adversary, the devil, who’s trying to arouse the sin already present within us (James 1:14-15). He’s trying to place anything other than God on the thrones of our hearts.
In today’s reading, we see the devil in his most desperate position, trying to tempt Jesus. As noted by many commentators, the parallels between Jesus’ temptation and the temptation of Adam and Eve are numerous. In both instances, the devil tries to appeal to temporary treasures that can’t endure in order to divert the people he’s enticing.
In the case of our first parents, the idea of self-rule over God’s rule looked more favorable and they chose rebellion. But, with Jesus, God’s will was more satisfying than anything the devil could place before Him.
It’s also important to note Jesus’ reliance on God’s Word in the midst of temptation. As often, appropriately mentioned, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, and 6:13 in response to the devil’s own proof texts.
Jesus offers us a model in this passage for how we should respond to the offers of temptation. The devil’s foils will always have one goal in mind—to get us to place something other than Jesus on the throne of our lives.
As John Piper said, “The power of all temptation is the prospect that [what is being offered] will make me happier.”
But, when we’re offered an opportunity, reward, anything that the world has to offer, we have to realize that it won’t endure. Instead, we must return to the Word of God that will never pass away. We respond to what’s false with what’s true, and we must remember that God’s revelation to us in His Word is perfect and trustworthy.
Jesus also provides something beyond a model for responding to temptation in this passage. He offers a glimpse of perfection—a look at what it would be like to live in freedom from the bondage of sin.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Today, when you face the inevitable temptation, whatever it may be, draw near to the throne of Grace. In Jesus, we have a great High Priest, who not only offers an example of how to respond to temptation, but also provides a way to overcome the dominion of sin.
Place your faith in the one who overcame the power of sin and the power of the grave to bring many sons and daughters to glory.
- Where are the areas of your life in which Satan is most likely to try and tempt you?
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. How does this verse encourage you in the face of temptation?
- In this passage, Jesus provides an example of how we should respond to temptation. Read Psalm 119:11. Before we’re tempted, what should we do to prepare?
- Read Hebrews 4:15. What does this verse teach us about Jesus? Does it bring you comfort?