Luke 3:21-4:13 (AD 27)
If only all of our temptation experiences went like this.
Luke, focused on establishing Jesus’ identity, deliberately put the baptism and genealogy of Jesus together. Passage no.3– the back-to-back-to-back of who Jesus is – opens with Satan, in epic futility, attacking Jesus’ idea of his own identity.
Here’s the sequence:
1a.) Satan: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread”
1b.) Jesus: The Bible says, “Man shall not live be bread alone”
2a.) Satan: I will give you the “authority and splendour” of the whole world if you worship me.
2b.) Jesus: The Bible says, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”
3a.) Satan: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself off the top of the temple” because the Bible says God will keep you from harm.
3b.) Jesus: The Bible says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”
It might seem futile to us, for Satan to try and tempt Jesus into sin, and it was, but bear in mind that Satan knew Jesus. He had been in heaven with Jesus and on some level he must have thought that if he, Satan, had fallen prey to temptation, that maybe Jesus could to. Also, he knew that his entire campaign against God could be won with a single sin by Jesus. The moment of that first sin, Jesus would be thrown out of heaven and his entire mission in the world would be destroyed. So the stakes could not have been higher during those forty days.
Notice the things Satan attacked: vanity, the desire for power, and the desire to impress. Satan knew Jesus in the sense that he used to live in heaven with him, but he didn’t understand Jesus at all. Jesus knew, that Satan knew, that Jesus was God, so Jesus had no need to prove his identity with an ostentatious miracle. You and I might find that tempting, Jesus not so much, even though Satan made a weak attempt at hiding those temptations behind a veil of godliness, using out-of-context Scripture and Jesus’ desire to be known as God. But he overdid it: WE are full of vanity, a desire for power (even if it’s just with our church, job, spouse or kids) and wanting to impress people. Not Jesus.
But Satan didn’t understand that, because he can’t read minds. He couldn’t read Jesus’ mind, and he can’t read yours. He understands you pretty well, because behave a lot like billions of other people he’s seen, but he understood Jesus very poorly.
Notice also how Jesus put Satan down: with a right understanding of Scripture. Satan was more than capable of throwing Bible verses at Jesus, and he did, but he did so with wilful misunderstanding of what those verses meant. We must defend ourselves not merely with reading the Bible now and again, but by making an effort to really understand what God is saying. Ask for Holy Spirit to lead you into truth and away from error; listen to and read godly teaching
Then we can see clearly, in God’s wisdom, what God wants from us; what we should be running towards, and what we should be running away from.
Thank God that Jesus did that. Your salvation depended on it.