This morning, we’re going to be looking at the temptation of Jesus. We’re going to be in Luke chapter 4 looking at the first thirteen verses, so Luke chapter 4 verses 1 through 13. And if you have your Bibles with you, you can go and turn there; if you use a Bible app, you can go ahead and, you know, scroll to there; if you’re following us on the YouVersion app, then the text should be right there already, right there for you. But we’re going to be looking at Luke chapter 4 verses 1 through 13.
And this is a topic that actually, at the risk of sounding trite or cliché, impacts every single one of us every single day. We’re gonna be looking at the fact that Jesus succeeded where Adam failed, and that has an impact on us every single day. Now, before we read the text, let’s have a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this wonderful day you’ve given us. And as we look at your Word, as we read your Word, I ask, God, that you are blessed and exalted and glorified and honored by the reading of your Word to us. And, God, don’t let it just be mere words, don’t let it just be mere text, don’t let it just be merely reading what’s on the page. Holy Spirit, use your Word to convict us, to challenge us, to encourage us, whatever is needed, but transform us through your Word. And I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Beginning in verse 1 Luke writes:
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ’Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ’You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Here we have three temptations—temptations that are used by the devil from the time before Jesus and through today. Yes, we face these same temptations today. The question is how do we resist and not give in to the temptation. That’s the hard part. Well, that’s where this comes into play and what happened between Satan and Jesus. In the first two verses, what we’re going to see is the context. We’re going to see the setting in which this took place, and what we see is that Jesus was tempted while physically weakened.
Jesus was tempted while physically weakened (vv. 1-2)
Physically weakened was Jesus’ status. What’s it say? He was “full of the Holy Spirit, returning from the Jordan, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” Now, let’s go through this and see exactly what’s going on.
Verse 1, it says he was led into the wilderness. He didn’t just wander there on his own. Jesus didn’t just say, “Hey, I’m going to go take some time and a vacation in the wilderness.” No, he was led—in verse 1—“led by the Spirit.” God the Son was led by God the Spirit into the wilderness. What this indicates is that the Holy Spirit was compelling Jesus to go into that wilderness, and Jesus humbly submitted to the will of God the Spirit. God the Son submitted to the will of God the Spirit and the leading of God the Spirit, indicating the relationship that we should have with God and in a relationship of humble submission to the leading and direction of God. And if you want to know how God is leading, you want to know the direction of God, open up this. [holds up Bible] It’s all right there. There’s a reason that God gave his word and sovereignly made sure that it was protected throughout time so that we have the word of God. You want to know what God is saying to you? Take a look. It’s right there in print (or in digital if you prefer the app version), but it’s right here. But Jesus depended upon the Holy Spirit, followed the Holy Spirit.
But it says he went into the wilderness. Now, people have lots of ideas about what that means. But when we see the wilderness talked about in Scripture, it has a variety of meanings and implications. Sometimes it means to be away from the resources and society and the amenities available to him in Jerusalem or whatever town the person happened to leave from. You might say going out to West Texas where there’s a sign that says, “Next gas station a gazillion miles, so you better fill up now.” Well, that’s one meaning.
Another meaning of the wilderness in Scripture is also the idea of dependence upon God. Paul went out into the wilderness to receive training directly from Jesus, so the wilderness for him was about dependence and learning and growing in Christ and growing in his relationship with God. So, sometimes the wilderness is pictured and used as the idea of dependence upon God.
Now, for Jesus what is this about? Why the wilderness? Well, twofold. One this is a picture of Israel’s—in reference to Israel’s—wandering in the wilderness. Also, showing that Jesus was going to be totally dependent upon God, not on himself. But it’s the idea of depending upon God and the wilderness of Israel as they’re wandering.
But it says he was in there, in verse two, he “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,” then verse two, check this out, “for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” Now, the forty days is significant. By the way, when we see forty days being mentioned in Scripture, that means something big is either happening or about to happen. That means that what is about to happen here is big—it’s a big deal.
But it’s more than just a big deal. The forty days is a direct reference to two things. First, to the forty years of wandering by the Israelites in the wilderness. They wandered in the wilderness having to depend upon God in their time as they wandered, but they did it for forty years. And here, Jesus is for forty days, pointing back to that.
But also, this points back to prophets of the Old Testament. Moses fasted for forty days. Elijah fasted for forty days. And, by the way, both Moses and Elijah ultimately failed, but as we’re going to see Jesus did not fail, so Jesus is greater than all prophets. The Islam religion may call Jesus a prophet, but they’re incorrect. Jesus is not just a prophet; Jesus is Messiah, God incarnate. Jesus is prophet, priest, king, God. But Jesus, in his forty days, was also referencing Moses and Elijah. By the way, Moses in the wilderness in the in the Exodus comes up a lot in Jesus’ life as far as imagery. Why? Because that’s a significant thing that points to Christ. But when we eventually preach through the Old Testament and Genesis, we’ll get there, but that’s a whole other sermon for another time. Suffice it to say, the forty days points to the wilderness wandering and to the prophets, and it indicates something big is going to happen.
But then, verse two, as we continue on, what’s happening? He’s there for forty days “being tempted by the devil, he ate nothing during those days.” Who in here wants to go forty days with no food? We’re Baptists. We can’t do that. We can’t go a week. We can’t go an hour. Jesus had had nothing to eat for forty days. Yeah, we don’t want to do that: nothing to eat for forty days. And, by the way, this has a relationship to Adam. How do we know that? Well, in Matthew, the temptation of Jesus is placed much—in a much different place compared to the genealogy of Jesus. Plus Luke, unlike Matthew in his genealogy, goes all the way back to Adam. And immediately after following Adam (because the end of chapter 3, he says that Jesus is the son of Adam, son of God), immediately followed by the temptations, which means the context of these temptations is pointing back to Adam.
Now, here’s why that’s significant. Jesus was hungry when he was being tempted; Adam had everything he could want when he was tempted. Adam could have eaten any fruit he wanted except that one. He had access to plenty. He had access to whatever. Jesus was hungry. Adam was—had no wants or worries in the world, and Jesus was starving. This also means that Jesus was physically weakened where Adam—he didn’t have that struggle. And in both of those situations, Satan came and tempted. Well, Satan tempted Jesus while he was hungry and physically weakened.
Leads us to the temptations themselves. And in these temptations (verses 3 through 12), what we’re going to see ultimately is that Satan tempted Jesus like he tempted Adam. And, by the way, when I say “Adam,” Adam and Eve are being treated as a single unit here. In Scripture, Adam is the one that is held guilty for the sin (in Romans). They’re treated as one unit here. So, when I say “Adam,” Adam and Eve.
Satan tempted Jesus like he tempted Adam & Eve (vv. 3-12)
But, Satan tempts Jesus like he tempted Adam and Eve. First temptation—verses 3 through 4—the first temptation was the temptation for Jesus to satisfy himself. Now, how does this work? What’s this entail? Well, it entails ultimately a rejection of God’s provision. What Satan does here, he’s going to appeal to a physical desire, in this case specifically, hunger. He’s going to tell Jesus, “Be like God and get the things that you want like God would do; do it on your own,” and ultimately try to attempt Jesus to provide for himself and not trust on God. A temptation to satisfy himself. Now, let’s go through this temptation.
Verses 3 through 4, what’s he say: “The devil said to him,” or said to Jesus—the first phrase here—“if you are the Son of God.” Now, in English that sounds like, “Well, maybe you’re the Son of God.” However, in Greek this construction is intentional. What he’s essentially saying is this: “For the sake of the point I want to make, I’m concluding that you are the Son of God.” We could loosely translate it “since you’re the Son of God” in this case. In the Greek, it can be translated “since you’re the Son of God.” But he’s saying, “Okay, you’re the Son of God.” Satan is appealing to the unique relationship that Jesus has with God the Father, and he’s going to use that relationship as a way to try to tempt Jesus to sin.
So, he says—it says—“if you’re the Son of God [since you’re the Son of God],” what’s he telling him to do, “speak to these stones”—“if you’re the Son of God command this stone.” Now, that phrase “command this stone” is significant because this phrase points back to Moses. If you remember, the Israelites were thirsty, they wanted water. God said to Moses, “Speak to the rock and water will come.” So, what’s Moses do? Moses does not do what God wants; Moses does things his own way. He smacks the rock with his stick. He’s sinned. Satan tells Jesus, “Speak to the rock. Speak to it. You’re God the Son. You’re the Son of God. You have this unique relationship. You can do this on your own, you don’t need God. You have the ability. You have the power. It’s in you. God has given it to you. You can use it for your own needs, so speak to this rock,” going back to what he said to Moses.
But then he says, “Speak to the rock, speak to the stone, command the stone to become bread.” This is a reference to the wilderness wandering. If you remember, God provided manna or bread from heaven for the people to eat on a daily basis. He provided their daily meals. Here, Satan says, “Nah, you don’t need to trust God. You’re the Son of God, you have the ability. Sure, go ahead make the bread. You’re hungry; you’re hungry.”
Now, this is an interesting thing that happens here. You see, Satan here uses a tactic that he continues to use today. Eating itself is not a sin. There’s nothing wrong with eating. So, Satan uses what is not a sin to lure the person to commit a sin. In this case, he says, “Hey, Jesus, eating is not a sin. Go ahead and eat, and thus reject God—don’t trust God—so, eat.” And he does this today. Satan uses the same tactic: he takes that which is not a sin and uses it to convince us to do something that is sinful.
Think about this. The physical relationship between a man and a wife—I’ll put it that way—is itself not a sin. However, it is a sin to engage in that act outside of marriage. And Satan will tell you, “Aww, you’re almost married, go ahead.” No, you’re not married. It is a sin. It is disobeying God to do something that in itself is not necessarily a sin because—a husband and wife, yeah, be fruitful and multiply—but if you’re not married and God says don’t do it, don’t listen to the lies of Satan. Refrain. Save it for marriage. And it’s not just that. Anything in this world, Satan will take an innocent thing—an act that is in and of itself is not bad—and try to use it to convince you to not trust God but to walk away from God and to do it on your own, to trust yourself.
So, how does Jesus answer? Verse 4: “Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall live,” correction, “man shall not live by bread alone.” Now, Matthew goes a little bit further in what he says, but Luke leaves it at that: “man shall not live by bread alone.” The implication here is, “but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” or basically, “from Scripture.” Man shall not live by bread alone. What Jesus does is he tells Satan, “No,” and responds with the word of God. Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 3. Now, in Jesus’ time there were no chapters and verses, but we know now today where this from: Deuteronomy 8:3.
What Jesus is essentially saying is this: “No, Satan! I am”—yes, Jesus had the ability to speak to that rock and provide his own food, but he says, “No. It’s not about doing what I can do, it’s about submitting to God and obeying him and trusting him. I will not abandon God. I will trust him even though I’m hungry. I won’t give in. I’m going to submit to the word of God.” Do we submit to the word of God, or do we submit to the will of man?
Temptation number two, verses 5 through 8. Here, this is a temptation for Jesus to glorify himself. What’s he say? Beginning in verse 5, “the devil took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,” so, he showed him a vision of everything, “said to him, ‘To you I’ll give all this authority and their glory, it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’”
So, what does this temptation for Jesus to glorify himself entail? Well, it entails the elevation of self instead of God. Just like the first temptation, here Jesus—here Satan uses a physical desire to try to lure Jesus. The physical desire in this case isn’t hunger, it’s power and authority, and he tries to use that to convince Jesus to sin.
He says, “Hey, I’ll give it all to you. I have the authority, I have power, and I will give you everything in this world if you’ll just meet my demands, meet my conditions.” Now, here Satan uses another tactic that we see happening all the time today: mixing a little truth with a little lie. Satan does have some authority and some power; we see that in Revelation 13:2. However, Satan does not have the authority or the power to give anybody everything in this world. So, Satan takes a little truth, mixes a little lie to create a big lie.
You may hear people today take a little truth but then they mix in a little lie. Why? To convince you that what they’re saying is right because they told a little truth. Well, so did Satan, but then he mixed in the falsehood. So, he then says, “Hey, take this authority that I have. I’m gonna give you everything in the world—although I can’t—but, yeah, here’s the conditions, Jesus: you just gotta worship me.” He tells the Son of God, essentially, to become the son of Satan, that is, to be obedient to Satan.
Now, when I read this, what I found interesting is the price: “if you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours,” and I thought to myself, “That sounds familiar.” Anybody in here ever seen the prequels of Star Wars?
Anakin Skywalker—those who have not seen the prequels, spoiler alert, but not much of one because they’ve been out for a long time. Those who have know exactly where I’m going, I’m sure. Emperor Palpatine, a Sith Lord (evil), gives Anakin a vision; Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world: “You can have all this authority, all this power, everything you could want.” Palpatine shows Anakin a vision of his wife dying. Palpatine tells Anakin, “You can have ultimate power and the ability to save your wife, and here’s the price, Anakin: give in to the dark side, follow evil.” Well, Anakin—like Adam—gave in. He knelt before Palpatine and called him, “Master.”
By the way, Anakin never got the power that was promised because Palpatine didn’t have the ability to give it to him. Satan may promise you all the things in this world. He may make the things of this world—the power, the authority, the you name it—tempting and enticing, but he cannot give you everything in this world. Don’t fall for the lie, even if Satan wraps it in a little bit of truth.
So, how does Jesus respond? He says, “No.” Adam gave in and ate; Jesus resisted. He says to Satan (verse 7, there it is), “And Jesus,”—I’m sorry verse 8—“Jesus said, ‘It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”’” Just like before, Jesus quotes Scripture. Here he’s quoting from Deuteronomy 6 verse 13. And what he does is he combines the words and the actions into one. What Jesus is indicating is this: the words that we speak should glorify God, not glorify self; the actions that we take should glorify God, not glorify self. Who do our words and actions glorify?
So, we get to the third temptation, and Satan again returns to a similar line that he used before. Verses 9 through 12, he says, says here, “Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God,’” again, that presumption of fact, appealing to the fact that he has that relationship with God the Father, “‘throw yourself down from here, for it’s written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you . . . On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’” What is this temptation? This is a temptation for Jesus to justify himself.
Satisfy himself. Glorify himself. Justify himself. Oh boy, a lot of self in here, because it’s leading people away from God because that’s Satan’s technique—uh, strategy, oh not strategy—that’s his goal: lead people away from God.
To justify himself. What’s this entail? It entails making God act on the promises that he gave. How does he do this? Check this out. He says, “For it is written,” verse 10, “for it is written,” and here Satan quotes Scripture and, by the way, he quotes it accurately, but he quotes it out of context. He quotes Psalm 91 verses 11 and 12, and he uses these two verses as a prooftext that will justify Jesus doing anything and everything he can, and tells him basically this: “Hey, make God keep his promise, because—hey, you’re God’s Son, he will keep his promise—so make God act on your terms.” And he twists the word of God. Satan twists it. Now, he has the same strategy here that he used with Adam and Eve: he took the words of God, twisted them to get Adam and Eve to eat, and they—Adam—ate. So far, two for two, Jesus did not give in. But Satan uses the same tactic today and sadly—sadly—many, many people, just like Adam, give in to the lies.
So, I want to tell you how to recognize this tactic that Satan is using here with Jesus, how to recognize it today so that you can see it and avoid it. Here’s how it works, here’s his tactic: take one or a few verses of Scripture out of context, reinterpret that text to make it about yourself (not Jesus)—so you take a verse out of context, reinterpret it, twist it to make it about you (not about Jesus)—and then appeal to selfish desires—“You want this, you need that,” appeal to the self and the flesh—and then take the promises of God, and he’ll tell you, “Make God keep his promises on your terms; God promised it, he has to fulfill it; hold him to it.”
I heard TD Jakes and Joyce Meyer both say, “Make God owe you; make him indebted to you.” The exact same lie Satan told Jesus. And there are many more who, in the name of Jesus, will use this tactic and will say Jesus’ name, but are in fact doing the work of Satan. We need to learn to recognize it and recognize how they twist the word of God to point to self and selfish desires. “You have something? Make God give it to you”—instead of pointing you to the Savior.
And Jesus’ answer, verse 12, once again (Satan goes 0 for 3):, “Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’” “Nope. No, Satan, I will not hold God to my standards. I will not force God’s hand. I will not try to compel him to do anything. Instead, I will submit to him and trust in his sovereign will and his sovereign provision. No, Satan, I will not sin against God.” However, Adam gave in, but Jesus did not.
And what’s he do? Just like the first two, Jesus quotes out of Deuteronomy, here chapter 6 verse 16. Satan tried to twist the word of God, but Jesus said, “No, the word of God actually says this.” Do we know the word of God well enough that we could say, “No, this is exactly what the word of God says”? If not, you need to spend more time in this [holds up Bible].
And one of the great ways to learn more about this, by the way, as great or as bad as my sermons may be, you will learn more and go deeper in small group—Sunday school—than I can or will in a sermon. You will get more by participating, and if you’re not participating in Sunday school, I want to encourage you to start because you’re missing out on a lot. If you want to grow spiritually, come to Sunday school. If you want to know more about Jesus, come to Sunday school—it’s at 9:15, by the way—but participate. But Jesus quotes out of Deuteronomy, and he says no I will submit and surrender to God, not to self. And so we see in verse 13 that Jesus was victorious over Satan’s temptations.
Jesus was victorious over Satan’s temptations (v. 13)
What’s it say: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him departed from Jesus until an opportune time.” What that means is that Jesus won this battle. And this was a big battle, and Jesus won the battle. By the way, that “opportune time,” we’ll see later that Jesus had more encounters with demons, more battles, and—by the way, spoiler alert—Jesus won them. But the ultimate battle that solved the problems of the world—the real problem of the world—the real battle that ended the war occurred at the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel, as told in Genesis 3:15: Jesus hung on that cross, shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins (because we’re all guilty of sin, every single one of us). Just as God said it would happen, Satan bruised Jesus is heel, but in that death and in the resurrection, the bodily resurrection of Jesus—which occurred on the third day which is why we meet on Sundays—Jesus won the war! Satan was crushed.
What he saw is, “Hey, Jesus is dead! Oh no. Jesus is alive.” Jesus defeated Satan in this battle. Jesus—unlike Adam, who seemed like he couldn’t eat fast enough—Jesus, in his weakened state, submitted to God and resisted the temptations.
A temptation is something that we face every single day, and it’s not necessarily temptations from the outside. Sometimes it’s a temptation from inside, from our own minds: a desire, a thought that creeps into our head. Maybe we start to justify the thing that we know we shouldn’t do: “Well, it’s okay in this instance. It’s not that bad. It’s not that big. It’s not a major sin, so it’s alright.” Or maybe, “Well, I’m saved and I’m forgiven, so God will forgive me for this, so I can do it this one time and God will forgive me.”
How do we resist? How do we not give in? I have good news and bad news. The bad news first: we can’t. You and I cannot fail to resist—you and I cannot not give in on our own. If we try by ourselves, we will give in, and we give in every single day.
Ever had a sinful thought that just shows up? Guess what. You just gave in. Jesus taught to think sinfully is equivalent and just as guilty as committing the act itself. To hate your brother; related to murder. To lust after someone; equated to adultery. Even the thinking and the desire of the sin shows that we give in all the time. So, how do we not?
Simple, but also a struggle because our flesh will not like this. Our natural selves do not like this. The way we resist, the way we not give in to the temptation, is we submit to the one who was victorious: Jesus Christ. Only Jesus didn’t give in to sin. Everybody else did and does. Only Jesus committed no sins, and we must trust him.
What does Jesus do? He indicates three times, “Trust God, trust God, trust God.” We must trust God. And how does Jesus do it? he goes to the word of God. We must spend time with God in prayer. We must spend time with God in the word of God. And if we fail to do that—oh, we are opening up the door to Satan, saying, “Sure, bring your temptations because I’m likely to give in.” The only way for that door to be slammed in Satan’s face is to submit to the only one that can close that door: Jesus Christ.
But you have the right, if you choose, to trust yourself: “No, I can do it. I’m strong. I’ve been going to church my entire life. I’ve been saved since I was pick an age.” Yeah, trust yourself. Adam did. Moses did. Elijah did. Every single mere man in the Bible did, and every single mere man today does, and every single mere man fails.
The better solution: trusting Jesus, and it must occur every day: “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins; lead us not into temptation, lead us away from it, and protect us from the evil one.” In that prayer, Jesus was referencing his own temptation where he won. Are you trusting Jesus, submitting to God every day, or are you depending upon yourself, your own strength, your own wisdom, your own power, your own whatever? Who do you trust? Who do you glorify? Who do you submit to?