We all encounter temptations in our lives, and as Jesus prepared for His earthly ministry after His baptism, He spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness. During Jesus’ preparation time, he fasted for the entire period of time.1
As we take a look at the temptations Jesus faced, scholars believe these specific temptations were experienced back-to-back at the tail end of His time when we would have been at His most vulnerable.2
As we said earlier, temptations are all around us. As we will see, some are physical, others surround our need to test God at every turn, while others focus on wrongful worship.
Your temptations may look different than what Jesus experienced, and I encourage you to find yourself in this narrative so you can see how Jesus went to war with the devil.
Let’s take a look at these temptations.
Temptation #1: Hunger (Physical, Emotional, Spiritual)
At the end of Jesus’ preparation time, He would have been experiencing hunger pains like no other. Since He is fully man and fully Devine, those hunger pains were real.
The devil saw an opening and met Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus recognized Satan right away from His many interactions with him over thousands of years.
Satan said to Jesus,
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” – Matthew 4:3
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
During this season of Lent or during this Holy Week, you may find yourself struggling with food. You may have challenged yourself to give up your favorite food, coffee, sugar, or something else.
Christ’s response to Satan goes deeper than physical food. It’s a call to read God’s Word. The Lord was able to combat Satan with scripture. His words are filled with strength and power.
Your battle with food may be different. You may have lost weight, and now you stand in front of the mirror, and all you see is your old self.
Whether you are tempted by food or see food as a reminder of your past, the Lord wants you to know that you can find encouragement in His Word. When we dig into His words in our Bibles, we see His love for us and His call for restoration.
If you are struggling with either too much food or mirror issues, I encourage you to reach out to someone for help and encouragement. And, I encourage you to dig into the word of God in order to find strength, encouragement, forgiveness, and healing from your past.
Remember that your past does not define your future, but it is part of your story.
Temptation #2 – Testing God
Satan came to Jesus a second time.
The devil took Jesus to the high point of the temple and said,
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “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.’” – Matthew 4:6
“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – Matthew 4:7
Satan wanted Jesus to test whether or not the Father would send angels to protect Him from a fall. Do you find yourself testing God?
I remember when I was in school and didn’t study for that important test, I would tell God…if you help me pass this test, I will, and you fill in the blank.
This is a form of testing the Lord, and as we see from our scripture above, it’s a temptation. The temptation occurs when we put less than our best foot forward and try and plead our way out of a circumstance.
The question we must ask ourselves is, what area or part of my life am I testing God? It might be health. It might be your finances. It might be your job.
Take a few minutes to search your heart, and see if you are knowingly or unknowingly testing God.
Temptation #3 – Wrongful Worship
If you are keeping score, the devil is 0-2 when tempting Jesus. He takes one last shot at Jesus in hopes of getting Him to mess up.
Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world.3 Satan says,
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” – Matthew 4:9
Let’s pause for one moment; the devil’s realm consisted of the earthly world. Jesus’ realm included everything in the universe.
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” – Matthew 4:10
The temptation of wrongful worship is alive and well. People worship pop stars, movie stars, and even pastors. When we take our eyes off of the Lord, we allow ourselves to be influenced by people and things.
In some cases, this leads us to the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ or placing our faith in a person who is sure to let us down.
When Jesus’ temptation and fasting experience was complete, angels came and ministered to Him to restore Him.4
When you look at all three category temptations, which one do you struggle with the most? Or maybe your temptation is not one of the three that Jesus experienced. What temptation do you struggle with right now?
Today, spend a few minutes reflecting on your temptation struggles. I encourage you to write them down and give them over to Jesus by laying them down at the foot of the cross.
If you need support or help to overcome your temptation, I encourage you to reach out to someone for help.
Lord, thank you for showing us how we can overcome the temptations we experience in our lives. We know you were perfect, but we ask you to guide and direct us in overcoming our temptations. And, Lord, if there is anyone struggling with their temptations, I ask you to meet them where they are at and provide a partner to help them overcome their temptations and burdens. Thank you for guiding us and strengthening us. Amen!
- Holy Week 2021 series
- “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” – Matthew 4:2 ↩︎
- In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, Jesus is tempted in the wilderness for forty days (Matt 4:2; Luke 4:2). The specific temptations depicted by Matthew and Luke, however, likely occur at the conclusion of the forty day period of temptation (Bock, Luke 1:1–9:50, 369–370).John Anthony Dunne, “Jesus, Temptation of,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016). ↩
- Matthew 4:8 ↩︎
- Matthew 4:11 ↩︎
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