October 15, 2011
The Temptation of Jesus
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Have you ever given much thought to temptation, or do you try to ignore it? When we face temptation, which comes to us every day, we should be very careful to have our defenses up and our armor on. Only through the power of Jesus Christ can we withstand temptation. Never think for a moment that God tempts you to do evil because God cannot be tempted by evil and God tempts no one with evil (James 1:13). You may then say, “If God cannot be tempted by evil, then how was it possible for the Lord Jesus to be tempted, since He was God in the flesh?” When you face questions like this one, keep two important points in mind: (1) Jesus was fully God and fully man; and (2) the Bible will always provide the best answers to our questions. Now, when we read about the brief mention of the temptation below, Jesus the man suffered temptation. While the divine nature in Jesus could not be tempted to sin, the human nature in Jesus was just like ours, without sin. Therefore, Jesus as man was tempted to sin, just like we are tempted to sin. Second, we know that Jesus never sinned, although He was tempted to sin just like we are (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). So, let us begin our study today of the temptation of Jesus as recorded in Mark.
Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness.
The Spirit Impelled Jesus. We see the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus Christ. Here, the Holy Spirit impels (“ἐκβάλλει“) Jesus. This same root word described the action of the Father sending out workers into His harvest (Matthew 9:38). Jesus also used this root word to describe the shepherd’s work of leading the sheep (John 10:4). The point here is that the Holy Spirit actively moved Jesus to go into the wilderness. He provided direct leading in the life of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit works in the same way in our lives.
The Wilderness. We have already seen that the wilderness played an important role in the life of John the Baptist. He lived and ministered in the wilderness. You may also recall that Moses saw the burning bush in the wilderness at Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 3:1-9). Jesus also went into the wilderness later in life to pray by Himself (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:13). He also took His disciples to a wilderness for rest (Mark 6:31-32). Although Jesus faced temptation in the wilderness, it was a place God used in His life for rest, prayer, and seclusion from the crowds pressing upon Himself and His disciples. At times, we all may need a little wilderness, to grow closer to God. In a greater sense, we may compare the people of Israel travelling through the wilderness for forty years both as punishment for their unbelief, and also as a period of testing before they entered the promised land and began the conquest under God’s leading and power (Deuteronomy 8:1-20, and particularly verses 2-3).
And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Forty Days of Temptation by Satan. Satan tempted Jesus in a place of isolation from the rest of the world, but notice that Jesus was in the animal world. They posed no actual threat to Him (remember Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:22; compare Psalm 91:11-13)). Furthermore, the text here gives fairly little attention to the types of temptations Jesus experienced. The Gospel of Matthew gives us much more detail of the various temptations (Matthew 4:1-11). Mark simply wants to show that Jesus experienced temptation for 40 days. Mark also wants us to understand that wild beasts were present and finally that the angels ministered to Jesus.
The Angels Ministered to Jesus. I meet people who seem totally wrapped up in angels. Why not be wrapped up with Jesus? We see here that the angels were ministering spirits to Jesus (compare Hebrews 1:14). Instead of focusing great attention upon the angels, Mark focuses the primary attention upon the Lord Jesus. He suffered temptation, in a wilderness, for forty days, with wild beasts around Him. During the millennial reign of Christ, Jesus will tame the wild beasts, but that time has not yet arrived (Isaiah 11:6-9). For now, the image suggests that angels ministered their protection to Jesus, even from the wild beasts by the power of God. We see here a great picture of how God provided for Jesus, even during times of temptation. Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, so that Satan could tempt Jesus there. Remember, God tempts no one ever. We should also remember that God controls every temptation, and provides a way of escape from the temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). As we resist Satan, he will flee from us (James 4:7).
So we learn more about the Temptation of Jesus.
● The Holy Spirit impelled Jesus into the wilderness, a place of wild beasts.
● Satan, not God, tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and Jesus never sinned.
● Angels ministered to Jesus during that time, and Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted in all ways, just like we are. Jesus rescues us from temptation, and knows firsthand what it is like to be tempted by Satan.
Application for Today
As I live today, I want to resist Satan and his temptations. I will have faith in God that He will never overwhelm me with temptation, and will always provide a means of escape. I will recall Jesus being tempted by Satan, and rely totally upon Jesus to rescue me from all temptations. As I draw near to Jesus today, He will draw near to me. Do you plan on facing temptation alone or will you remember Jesus today and draw near to Him as Satan tempts you today?