Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13
Tempted for Our Sake
Since last Sunday was given to Jesus’ baptism, it makes sense to me that the Sunday after should be given to that event which immediately followed: Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness or desert.
The first point I wish to make is that everything in the life of the Lord can be grouped under two heads: first, he did what he did to please the Father who was well-pleased in His Son; and second, he did everything for us and for our salvation, for it was to save sinners that he came. So this testing of our Lord in the wilderness (which here literally means “desert”) was first to glorify his Father as he won the victory and displayed God’s power over Satan, which awaits its final chapter in the end time; and, second, to take our place in the battle as our Captain and Champion. Jesus here does more than show us an example to follow – and certainly everything Christ did was for us a perfect example of obedience to the Father – but also to prove that everything he did was done in our stead, in our place, as the One who lived and died and rose again for us. That is, it is not only in Christ’s death that he takes our place, but all he did in his life as well. And this is a source of great comfort for us.
The Scripture tells us that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit: It was a divine appointment. Indeed, as Israel was forty years wandering in the wilderness for their disobedience, Jesus returns there to right the wrong, to “recapitulate” (to redo and make right) what his people had failed to do. Christ goes there in obedience and conquers where we were defeated, for our sake. He fasts for forty days to bring intense focus on the task set before him – to defeat Satan – a task he would have to undertake every day of his earthly life. The three specific temptations mentioned were not the only ones he endured but representative of them all: 1) To use his divine prerogatives for his own good, which Jesus refused as he came as man to redeem man and must rely on the Father to meet his needs; 2) To find another way to gain a following than by what was appointed by the Father – through ministry and giving his life as a sacrificial offering; and, finally, 3) To exchange the true glory that was the way of the cross and resurrection to an eternal kingdom, for the counterfeit glory of the kingdoms of a perishing world. And when Jesus had won the battle in this round, Scripture says that Satan left him “until an opportune time.” Know that Satan won’t quit. He’ll hound you to the end. But also know that a crown awaits those who pass the test (James 1:12), and that angels minister to those who stand fast.