1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the temper came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The gospel of Mark doesn’t give us nearly the details that Matthew does concerning the events about to unfold. However, Mark gives a very vivid description when he writes: “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12)
I once had an older member in the church tell me that God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted.
Unfortunately this is one of those texts or passages that does not translate well into modern English. James the brother of Christ writes in the book that bears his name makes this very clear when he said. James 1:13: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He Himself tempt anyone. The Spirit led Christ into the wilderness so that the time could be used to prepare himself for the trials to come. By fasting and prayer He was to brace Himself for the bloodstained path He must travel.
Mighty issues for the world were at stake in the conflict between the Prince of light (Jesus) and the leader of the kingdom of darkness (Satan). After tempting man to sin, Satan claimed the earth as his, and styled himself the prince of this world. Having conformed Adam and Eve to his (Satan’s) own nature. Satan thought to establish here upon this earth his empire. He declared that men had chosen him as their sovereign. Through his control of men, he held dominion over the world. Christ had come to disprove Satan’s claim. There would be no second chance for this fallen planet. Christ had to prepare and he did this with prayer and fasting.
Satan well knew that Jesus had gone into the wilderness and Satan could see His weakened state after the forty days of fasting. So he came upon Jesus and tempted him to satisfy His own needs. “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Did Christ have the power to accomplish such a miracle? Yes, he certainly did! Then why wouldn’t Christ say, “Ok, I can do this. What harm could there be?”
Christ did not come into this world to serve himself but to serve man. When Christ left heaven to be born a baby, he left behind his kingly power and glory and took upon himself the form of sinful man. He suffered the same as any one of us would suffer. If at any time he had picked up his power to be used in a selfish manner he would have failed.
Genesis chapter 3 is the tragic story of the fall of Adam and Eve. Let’s review this story for just a moment. Perhaps a better understanding of this story will give us insight into this story.
The serpent and Eve had already started a conversation and in verse 4 the serpent drives home the point. 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and the tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.
The tree desirable to make one wise. Were they not already wise? Had not God given them dominion over the earth, to keep it and dress it? (see Genesis 1:26-28) If then they were already wise and rulers of the earth, what more could they possible need? Yet they suddenly desired to put their needs above God’s desires for them. Suddenly Adam and Eve put themselves before God and showed disrespect toward God and dishonored the law of God by choosing to do their own will over God’s will.
Now please keep this in mind. Man was not created a robot. He was created with a free will. A will free to choose. This freedom of choice had gotten Lucifer (Satan) into trouble when he desired to be greater than the Most High God (see Ezekiel 28:12 -15). He used the same reasoning upon our first parents in tempting them to be like God, to know good and evil. He tempted Christ in the same way to place his wants and desires above that of His Father who sent him. It is was a simple test for our first parents, a simple test for Jesus and it is a simple test for us.
The great temptation for Christ was to pick up his divinity. To use his divinity for his own good. He was sent to save and to serve. To save fallen humanity by serving them. By serving them, he restored them to physical, spiritual and mental health.
Yet for you and me, the greatest test for us humans is to pick up our humanity. Christ desires to lift us up to his level. The whole plan of salvation is dependent upon us being lifted up out of our fallen condition and restored to our former selves. When we accept Christ as our Saviour we are asking to be restored, but when we listen to temptation and fall, we are placing our humanity above Christ’s desire for our lives.
Christ responded temptation with scripture. Deuteronomy 8:3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
There are times in this life when our earthly wants and desire should become secondary to the word of God. Christ said, “I am the bread of life.”
Christ went into the wilderness and spent forty days with His Father gaining the strength that no earthly food could prepare us for. Christ answered temptation with scripture because we are involved in a spiritual war and temporal food will not sustain us in battle. Only spiritual food sustains us in a spiritual battle.
Christ choose to lay off his Divinity and become one like us. To be tempted like us and suffer like us, so that he could become our advocate before the court of heaven. If at any time he had allowed his divinity to come forth for his benefit all would be lost.
In the battle of this life, when we pick up our humanity, the battle is lost. Christ placed the wants and desires of His Father above his own needs and desires. He is asking us to set aside our humanity and establish a relationship with The Father that gives us the strength to do the will of the Father as Jesus did.
But Satan wasn’t through . . . .
NOTE TO THE READER: When I write on Biblical subject I use the term “Man”. This is not a reference to just the male gender. This is a reference to all mankind. If I offend anyone for using it in this context, I apologize.