The definition of the word temptation is: “to entice.” Entice is defined: “to attract artfully or adroitly by arousing hope or desire. To lure; an inducement to pleasure or gain.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
To lure, to arouse, or entice are all good definitions to describe accurately the wily ways of Satan. Wily or no, Satan had no measurable ill effect on Jesus Christ! Jesus had a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures and through that knowledge He escaped the artful ploys of His opponent. Comforted by the words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” Jesus “then was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 3:11; 4:1). Jesus fasted for forty days.
A period of forty days and nights of fasting is a long time! It amounts to exactly 960 hours! Going without food for a day often causes hunger; multiply that by forty. “He was afterward an hungered” (Matthew 4:2). Total starvation would seem the better term!
Can one perceive being that hungry and resisting the tempter who would say, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3)? Human that I am, my first reaction would be to have loaves of bread in all shapes, sizes and flavors of my choice! I would have a picnic! My spirit would be weak. Not so, Jesus. He was the Son of God in human form. There is no doubt He could have in a single thought made all the stones into bread. To gratify His human need was secondary. Quoting the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 8:3 to be exact, Jesus said: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3). Imagine being very hungry and saying “no” to a possible feast to end a forty day fast. Jesus spoke of another source of food, Spiritual food, the bread of life!
The power of Satan paled as his invitation to end the fast in pleasure was so confidently rebuffed by Christ. God must have been well pleased! During times of temptation do we weigh the provocative invitations of Satan against the reliable Word of God? “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 7:63). Jesus is that bread of life come down from heaven to do the will of the Father. He was the perfect example. Do we do as Jesus or do we please self?
Unable to defeat Jesus in his first attempt, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in the holy city. Again, we read, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down…” A second snare was set. The answer: “It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). How presumptuous of Satan to assume Jesus would tempt His own Father; His God! Jesus had a complete faith in God. He knew God as a Father. That Father would care for Him. Jesus would not ask God to prove himself! Jesus may have recalled these words: “This is my beloved Son.” If we are in Christ, “behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). How strong is our faith in Him? Need we prove or even so much as question the love God has for us?
Taking Jesus with him on to an exceeding high mountain, Satan looked over all the kingdoms in their glory. From this spacious point of view he made his final offer to Jesus. “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9).
What wealth, honour and pleasure! The world and all of the glory of possession within reach! Now how unwise could the devil be? The earth was already the creation come from the Father, and He, Jesus had been there. Jesus and the Father are one (Gensis 1:26). The Son of God did not mince words! “Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, “Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve.” Once more, Jesus knew how to defeat the sordid ways of Satan. To bow to him would only end in disaster! To watch the total kingdom of God fade into nothingness because of a preposterous proposal was not in the mind of Christ. By kingdom, I mean a heavenly kingdom. The earth and all of its pleasures were meaningless if God was not included. This kingdom was His home and God was His Father. He took pleasure in knowing one day He would return to His home. This is called hope. This same hope continually invites us to worship and serve God and Him only. This is the plan Jesus presented to us, despite the devil and his temptations!
“Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” Now was the time to eat! The angels came to serve Jesus!
Temptations will come to all. Jesus set forth the example to follow. Do not bow down to the attractiveness of toady’s tastefully packaged pleasures. It is just another way Satan is trying to entice us. Boldly take a stand. Use the Word as Jesus did. The tempter will flee, the Bible says so! We are to “set aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Learn from Jesus and His temptations.