The Temptation of Jesus
Rev. Pavle Cekov
Text: Matt.4: 1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give His angels charge concerning You'; and 'On their hands they will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Jesus Christ was tempted by the Devil throughout his ministry. The Bible says: "...but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin." (Heb 4:15) The temptations of Jesus were real. The Bible says: "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Heb 2:18) From the temptations of Jesus in Matt.4: 1-11 we can learn two important things: First, to know the process of temptation, and Second, how to overcome temptation.
Knowing the process of temptation is very important for us if we want to overcome our temptations. Jesus Christ was tempted in the same way as Adam and Eve. We are all tempted in the same way too. It doesn't matter if we are members of the local church or Church leaders. The process of temptation is the same. So let us look at the process of temptation:
(Matt. 4: 3-4) "if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." The first temptation was on the level of His physical nature, to turn stones to bread. He was hungry and the devil gave him a suggestion of what to do. The devil tempted Jesus through his human physical wishes. In the same way Adam and Eve were tempted. We church leaders are tempted too. But for Jesus God's will was more important than the satisfaction of His hunger. Every day the devil is bringing before us doubts regarding our physical needs. Especially those who are far away on the mission field. Can God provide your physical needs? What about world evangelization? Can God provide all our physical needs in order to fulfill the task? We need to depend and trust on Him. Let us learn the lesson from the people of Israel in the desert. Each day they needed to learn to trust and depend on God.
(Matt.4: 5-7) "Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, ... throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."
The second temptation was on the level of His spiritual nature to prove His faith in God. At the same time it was an appeal to manifest Himself spectacularly to Israel. Jesus was not willing to depart from the will of God in the spiritual realm. Jesus depended and believed in the word of God. Israel was tempted in the desert in the same way. God promised to them the land of Canon but they denied God's word. Because of it, that generation died in the desert. When we reject the word of God as leaders and do not trust and depend, than we will fail for sure. Adam and Eve fail because they do not keep and trust the word of God. "The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17)
(Matt.4: 8-10) "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you, he said, if you will bow down and worship me." The third temptation was on the level to defy the person of God. This temptation involved the purpose of His coming into the world. Jesus came to redeem men, not to rule them. Satan's way, still followed by many, required no suffering and death, but Jesus chose God's way, the way of the cross.
We know that the first Adam failed and did not overcome the temptation. Why? Because he was weak spiritually. But we praise the Lord for the second Adam who is the Lord Jesus Christ. He triumphed over Satan. How did the Lord Jesus Christ overcome temptation?
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert..." The Holly Spirit led Jesus. With his leadership and power He was able to overcome this temptation. Jesus was not led by His natural desires (sinful nature) but He lived in accordance with the Spirit desires. It was not the same with Adam. He was lead by his flesh and not with his spirit or by the Holly Spirit. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8: 5-6) As leaders, we need to live in accordance with our spirit and not our natural desires if we want to overcome temptation. Also God gave us his Holly Spirit. With His power we can overcome the devil.
"It is written: Man does live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Jesus was able with the power of the word of God to overcome the devil. There is such a power in the word of God. Apostle Paul experienced the power in the word of God. That is why he is saying: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles." (Romans 1: 16) The word of God is our sword with which we attack our tempter. "...the sword of the Spirit, which is word of God." (Eph 6: 17)
"After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." Jesus was known for his prayer. Very often He was praying. Look in (Mk 1: 35). Jesus was praying and fasting and therefore he was able to overcome the temptation. We leaders today need to learn this lesson from Jesus.
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