Temptation

When Jesus returned from the Jordan River, the power of the Holy Spirit was with him, and the Spirit led him into the desert. For forty days Jesus was tested by the devil, and during that time he went without eating. When it was all over, he was hungry.

The devil said to Jesus, “If you are God’s Son, tell this stone to turn into bread.”

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say, ‘No one can live only on food.’ ”

Then the devil led Jesus up to a high place and quickly showed him all the nations on earth. The devil said, “I will give all this power and glory to you. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. Just worship me, and you can have it all.”

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say:
‘Worship the Lord your God
and serve only him!’ ”

Finally, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on top of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God’s Son, jump off. The Scriptures say:
‘God will tell his angels to take care of you.
They will catch you in their arms,
and you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’ ”

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don’t try to test the Lord your God!’ ”

After the devil had finished testing Jesus in every way possible, he left him for a while. (Luke 4:1–13)

Luke’s Gospel, like Matthew’s, describes Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. One detail that Luke reveals that was missing from Matthew’s account of the event comes at the end of the temptation. Luke reveals that the devil left Jesus “for awhile.” The implication was that Satan tried again, later.

The author of Hebrews explains that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us. Luke tells us that he was tempted during the full forty days, not just by the three temptations listed. The gospel give us merely a selective summary of Jesus’ experiences, not an exhaustive account.

We are not tempted just once in our lives. We are not even tempted only once for the same sin. We spend our lives being tempted time and time again, usually over the identical issues. When we’re told that Satan had left Jesus “for awhile,” we understand what that means. Like us, Jesus would again be faced with temptations from the devil. Our temptations may not be constant, but they are never-ending and normally come without warning, at the worst possible times.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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