The Temptation and the Identity of Christ

Greetings friends. The blog is going up early as I have other duties that I need to attend to tonight. For those who are just joining us, we’ve been going through the Bible and right now, we’re in the gospel of Luke, studying the Trinity and seeing what we can find out about the doctrine from Scripture. Tonight, we’re going to be in Luke 4 and looking at his temptation narrative.

1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

 4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ ”

 5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’

 9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
   ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you
      to guard you carefully;
 11they will lift you up in their hands,
      so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

 12Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

 13When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Notice that each of these temptations relied on Jesus’s identity as the Son of God. The whole theme of this is who Jesus is. Will Satan be able to tempt him based on his identity? Let’s look at each of the temptations in the order Luke presents them.

The first is to turn stones to bread. At first, this might seem harmless. If you’re hungry, why not make food? What’s the problem?

The problem is that Jesus would have been using the divine prerogatives for his own advantage and not for the good of the mission. It would have been saying he did not trust God to supply for his needs. Ultimately, it would have been utilitarianism. The result will be good, so why not?

Instead, Jesus while being fully God does not choose to use his divine prerogatives for his own advantage. Note this about the incarnation. Jesus plays by the rules of the game. If he used his divine attributes, he did so purely for the glory of God.

The second temptation is one many of us would be tempted with. Bow down and you can have everything. Jesus already had all of this even before he left his throne in Heaven. This could be seen as a call back to the past. Again, Jesus refuses saying that he will simply worship God.

The last was probably the greatest temptation for Christ and that was to jump down from the temple and show himself to be God. I say this was probably the greatest because the prayer that Jesus prayed in the garden was if there was some way to avoid the cross. When Jesus rebukes Peter, he does it for saying that he should avoid the cross.

Yet Jesus could have shown himself to be the Messiah easily by such a great act and had a following and avoided the cross.

He just wouldn’t have atoned for the sins of the world.

Jesus answers saying not to put God to the test. He must trust God in the method that he has instituted to bring about salvation.

In all of these, Jesus is still the Son of God. It is by not doing these things that he showed the nature of holiness.

May we remember this for the temptations in our own lives. Simple trust in God and reliance on his Scriptures is a great way to resist temptation.

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