Jesus Resists Temptation
Key Verse: “He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
FOLLOWING HIS BAPTISM, Jesus departed into the wilderness for a season of solitude in order to determine the Father’s will before commencing his public ministry. He also fasted for forty days, as he contemplated the meaning of various prophecies which forecast his suffering and death. In addition, he spent time laying the foundation for the work of the apostles and others who would proclaim God’s coming kingdom. Our Lord was so absorbed in study and communing with God that he did not partake of any food for the entire duration of his wilderness experience. Noting his diminished vitality, the devil attempted to entice Jesus into using his spiritual powers to assuage his hunger.—Matt. 4:1-3
As noted in our Key Verse, the Master promptly rejected the Adversary’s suggestion that he miraculously convert stones into food for his personal consumption. He quoted from the Old Testament, which asserts that obedience to God’s Word was of paramount importance, and therefore, he would not use his power in a manner which would be contrary to his covenant of sacrifice.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”—vss. 5,6
Again, our Lord promptly and correctly dismissed Satan’s challenge to defy the laws of nature and seek divine protection. For him to do so would be to tempt the Father by making a misapplication of Scripture.—Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7
In a final effort at deception, the Devil suggested if the Master would acknowledge his supremacy, it would not be necessary for him to give his life in sacrifice to redeem the human family. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”—vss. 10,11
As consecrated followers of Christ, there is an important lesson that we can glean by reflecting upon how our Lord conducted himself during his trials in the wilderness. Satan has long sought to achieve his own goals by rebelling against divine authority. “Thou hast said in thine heart, … I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:12-14) Although he failed in his attempts to have our Lord render allegiance to him, he has sought to thwart the completion of the body of Christ by presenting to our minds various allurements that if acted upon, would tend towards fleshly self-gratification and impede our progress in the narrow way.
May we redouble our efforts in submitting to the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures, always bearing in mind the following admonition: “Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”—Luke 14:11