Thursday, May 15, 2014

Satan Tempts Jesus

Matthew 3:13-4:7

“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (Matthew 3:13-15)

Every year the Jordan overflowed its banks, covering a wide area.  As a result the area was largely uninhabited and that was where John lived and did most of his preaching and baptizing.  Jesus sought John out to be baptized by him.  John had been preaching baptism as a sign of repentance from sin, and while he knew himself to be a sinner, he also knew Christ had no sin to repent of.

When he expressed his concerns to Jesus, Jesus said that it was still fitting that he express his commitment to avoiding sin the same way the other people were.  John acknowledged the truth of the statement and baptized Jesus.

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

All of the people present, including some of those who would become Jesus’ disciples heard God speak from heaven and saw the Spirit descend on him like a dove.  They, as well as John could testify of what they had seen and heard.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.  And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

But 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.” (Matthew 4:1-4)

Jesus spent forty days alone in the wilderness fasting and praying.  That long a period without eating or having personal contact with other people would leave one drained mentally, physically, and emotionally, and Satan chose that moment to make his attack. 

The attack sounds relatively harmless.  Just prove you are the Son of God and get yourself something to eat.  After all, there is nothing wrong with eating.  Jesus had come to experience exactly what it was like to human so he could most effectively serve as our advocate.  Since other people could not just speak food into existence, he would have defeated part of his purpose, as well as yielding to human pride to prove he was God’s son.  Jesus pointed out that there is more to life than just food, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.

“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.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:5-7)

The second attack is an overt attack on his pride.  Prove you really are the Son of God.  After all he said he wouldn’t allow you to be hurt.  He even quoted part of Psalm 91 to make it appear the right thing to do.   Unfortunately, pride encourages us to act in our own power rather than yielding to God.   Proverbs 8:13  says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way…”, clearly defining pride and arrogance as evil.    

To have done as Satan suggested would have placed God in the position of having to choose whether to condone his pride or let him die.  He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 in response.  “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God…”    We don’t have the right to put God in that position.

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

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. ” (Matthew 4:8-10)

Satan’s final attack was to offer him political power.  If he would just worship Satan, he would give him all the political power in the world.  He could make people do whatever he wanted.   Jesus referred to Exodus 34:14 in his response.  “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” 

I John 2:15-16 warns, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Satan tempted Jesus in each of these three areas, the lust of the flesh with his desire for food. his pride of life in daring him to prove he was the Son of God, and the lust of the eyes or pride of possession and power with his offer of political power. 

Satan still uses these same things to get people involved in sin.  How many are seduced to neglect god or even to overt sin by an opportunity to satisfy physical needs or desires like the man who cheats on his taxes or participates in illegal activity to earn a better living for his family.  Others are like the preacher in Arkansas, who died recently after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was handling to prove he had God’s power, tempting the Lord.  Some sacrifice moral or ethical standards to attain financial or political power, believing they can make the world better if they can just get the power.  In doing so they end up worshipping Satan.

“Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”(Matthew 4:11)

James 4:7 instructs, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  By submitting ourselves to god, we gain his power to successfully resist the Devil.  When he realizes there is no possibility of winning he will flee to escape defeat, just as he did from Jesus.   

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