The Tempting of Jesus

As Luke chapter four opens, Jesus is just returning from the Jordan River and His baptism, filled with the Holy Spirit. And it was the Spirit, Luke tells us, that led Him into the wilderness for 40 days, where He was tempted by the devil. The 40 days reminds us of the 40 days that Moses went without food in Exodus 34:28, as well as the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the desert before entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14:34). The parallel with this latter seems significant. God provided manna for them daily, teaching them dependence on Him. The Spirit, it would seem, was leading Jesus to depend on faith that God would provide for Him. It was this faith that the devil was determined to derail.

There are those who have expressed the opinion that Jesus could not truly have sinned, since He was the Son of God. This opinion refers to what is called peccability,” from the Latin verb “peccare” – meaning to sin. If He had not been able to sin, there would have been no real temptation. But we know this to be false, as the Hebrew writer tells us in Hebrews 4:14-16.

The Temptation of Christ (detail)

The Temptation of Christ (detail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John the baptist had indeed prepared the way for Him, and God knew that Jesus needed these tests. This was a great opportunity for Satan because he knew that Jesus’ ministry was about to begin. His hunger and weakness was very real after 40 days in the wilderness. The temptation to deviate from the Spirit’s direction and satisfy His own hunger would be great. Then Satan showed Jesus a large portion of what must have been the Roman Empire (the “kingdoms of the world” in verse 5) that could be under his authority if he would simply bow down to him. The last temptation would have made Jesus famous throughout the land, and nobody would have been able to doubt His greatness after throwing Himself down from the Temple. And after all, would God really allow harm to come to Him?

One of the lessons we can learn from these temptations that Jesus was able to overcome can be seen by looking at how Jesus answered the devil. In each case, he used the Scriptures to answer (Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:13, and Deuteronomy 6:16). Jesus showed us that our best defense against temptations is a thorough knowledge of God’s word. By reading and studying the Bible, we come closer to God, and His word gives us the answers – the knowledge and understanding to get through the trials of this world.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at

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