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The Temptation of Jesus October 27, 2017

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 4:1-11.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. Satan then attempts to tempt Him by:

  • encouraging Him to turn stones into bread – since He is the omnipotent Son of God
  • encouraging Him to leap from the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem – since Psalm 91:11-12 states that He can rely on God to protect Him
  • offering Him the entirety of worldly wealth – if He will worship him.

Yet Jesus rejects these temptations by citing the following passages from Scripture:

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 – where God asserts that man obtains true life from His words
  • Deuteronomy 6:16 – where God warns the Jews in the desert against testing Him
  • Deuteronomy 6:13 – where God warns the Jews in the desert against idolatry.

At this point, Satan withdraws to plan further assaults on Jesus, while angels arrive to refresh Him.

Thoughts: This is a challenging passage, as it forces us to assess the truth of the following statements:

  • since Christ is fully human, it is possible for Him to sin
  • since Christ is fully divine, it is not possible for Him to sin.

After contemplating this passage, I think that as believers, we readily accept at least certain aspects of the humanity of Christ. For example, we have little difficulty assuming that His earthly sojourn was marked by:

  • hunger
  • thirst
  • physical pain
  • mental anguish.

Yet this passage – and His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane – raises the following question: was it possible for Christ to commit a sin during His earthly sojourn? If not, then does this passage depict a legitimate struggle between Christ and Satan? Perhaps this passage inspired numerous heresies that attempted to explain it. If so, then we need wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit to determine what God is saying to us in this passage and how we should respond to Him in light of it.

Here, we see that Christ responds to the temptations of Satan by quoting from the Old Testament. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

It will do us no good if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds.
Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition; it can only be got by hard, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading. Do we grudge the time and trouble this will cost us? If we do we are not yet fit for the kingdom of God.

This passage spurred me to consider my responses to temptations. In those instances, I find that I recite statements that align with specific Biblical passages – i.e. while I do not quote from Scripture, my thought reflects the spirit of specific passages. Now I do wonder if I should quote from Scripture in those instances. Perhaps such quotations would constitute a stronger response to Satan when he tempts me, as that would demonstrate the firmness of my devotion to God and His words.

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