This week we look at the “Temptation of Jesus”, and turning to Barnes Notes discover some interesting viewpoints. The book of Mark has only three verses about this, the more detailed writings being in Matthew and Luke. We will examine Barnes Notes for our blog references this week. Consider that all three books point to the fact that Jesus went into the wilderness alone. He was alone during the temptations until He sends Satan away at which time the Angels came to attend to him.
Fact, at some time Jesus had to share his time in the desert with his disciples or there would have been no record of the temptations. Imagine our Lord telling about this time in his life. I am sure from past reading of the ministry of Jesus, he would have used this story to teach his disciples about the ways the devil can come against us. Imagine also that here is Jesus, just baptized and God declaring “and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased( Matthew 3:17) and here he is suddenly being tested by the devil just as we all are at times in our lives. The humanity of Christ, God incarnate among us. As the song says “I Can Only Imagine”.
First let’s look at the word tempt as used here. It means to try, to endeavor, to attempt to do a thing. In these verses the devil attempts to draw Jesus away from virtue or plainly said from the Father, from God. These temptations are not so much about sin as they are about obedience. Satan knows that disobedience opens the heart and mind to sin and sin separates us from God. Next it is written that he fasted for forty days. “Fasted-Abstained from food”. There have been commentaries that suggested otherwise but Luke puts that to rest. “Luke 4:2 – for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.” There are other things that have been written that suggest that Jesus only came to the realization of self and his call upon his baptism. I will leave that to the scholars and go with one certain thing. “ – Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12) True calling requires a time of preparation and immediately Satan sought to tempt Him.
In verse 3 (Matthew 4) we find the first of the three temptations. Why be hungry you have the power to fix that! We know our Lords answer to that. He went to old testament scripture. “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
The following is from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible:
– Satan often takes advantage of our circumstances and wants to tempt us.
–Satan‘s temptations are often the strongest immediately after we have been remarkably favored. Jesus had just been called the Son of God, and Satan took this opportunity to try him.
–His temptations are plausible. They often seem to be only urging us to do what is good and proper.
–We are to meet the temptations of Satan, as the Savior did, with the plain and positive declarations of Scripture. We are to inquire whether the thing is commanded, and whether, therefore, it is right to do it, and not trust to our own feelings, or even our wishes, in the matter.”
The second temptation places Jesus on the very pinnacle of the temple. Satan tells Jesus to throw himself off, no harm will come to you if you are the son of God. 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 –.”
Again the Savior replied to Satan using Scripture – a passage which expressly forbade an act like this. “Matthew 4: 7 –Again it is written, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Jesus once again reaches back and quotes from “Deuteronomy 6:16 – “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test” One last point before we move on from Albert Barnes.
“It is true, indeed, that God aids those of his people who are placed by him in trial or danger; but it is not true that the promise was meant to extend to those who wantonly provoke him and trifle with the promised help. Thus, Satan, artfully using and perverting Scripture, was met and repelled by Scripture rightly applied.”
Moving to Matthew 4: 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name”. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
Once again Jesus turns to scripture and Satan is driven away. Three temptations, the first one to a necessity, food, Jesus was hungry. The second to the protection of God when in great danger. The third is far more serious. It was a proposition that the Jesus should worship the devil, turn from the father and bow down before the Prince of wickedness and give him homage. But as we have read in Deuteronomy this was plainly forbidden. Albert Barnes gives these words of wisdom.
(a) That no one is so holy as to be free from temptation, for even the Son of God was sorely tempted.
(b) That when God permits a temptation or trial to come upon us, he will, if we look to him, give us grace to resist and overcome it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
(c) We see the art of the tempter. His temptations are adapted to times and circumstances. They are plausible. What could have been mere plausible than his suggestions to Christ? They were applicable to his circumstances. They had the appearance of much piety. They were backed by passages of Scripture misapplied, but still most artfully presented.
(d) One of the best ways of meeting temptation is by applying Scripture. So our Savior did, and they will always best succeed who best wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”( Ephesians 6:17)
Temptation is Satan’s way of drawing us away from God and opening the heart and mind to sin. The story of the “Temptation” provides a remarkable link to our blog of last week. That reading, studying and living scripture is important to living a Holy Life. Temptation leads to sin and sin separates us from God. Come back next week, there is always room in the pew. jk
Reference: Albert Barnes