..........Myspace Codes An Extraordinary Life: Luke 4:1-13 ~ The First Temptation of Christ

Monday, April 04, 2011

Luke 4:1-13 ~ The First Temptation of Christ

Temptation seeks to lead one astray from the framework of life. Since God sets the right framework of life itself, temptation has the potential of leading one to sin. That said, temptation itself is not sin for Jesus Himself was tempted but still remained sinless and perfect. And it is here in the first half of Luke 4 that we see the first temptation of Christ right at the start of His ministry.

Essentially, the nature of the temptations can be summarized as: (i) fending for yourself for your physical needs (verses 3-4), (ii) gaining own kingdom through false worship (verses 5-8), and (iii) testing God's protection (verses 9-11). From verse 2, we can see that it is the devil who tempts. What makes it tempting is that his lies are half-truths. Temptation (i) contains the half-truth that it is not wrong to meet our own physical needs but the lie is that it is the be all and end all, and that there is no need to rely on God. Temptation (ii) tells the half-truth that the devil is the prince of the world but the lie that he has the sole authority to give the world to whoever he wants. Temptation (iii) quotes lots of Scriptures but lies in the misuse of the Scriptures, presuming miraculous protection based on our own terms.

It should not surprise then that Jesus would counter the temptations put forth to Him by using Scripture as well. He quoted Deuteronomy 8:2-3 that the Word of God is the word of promise and that we are to trust God's promised word in response to temptation (i). Temptation (ii) was countered using Deuteronomy 6:10-14 in which we are reminded that God is the one who gives us His Kingdom and it is Him and Him alone whom we should worship and serve. As for temptation (iii), Deuteronomy 6:14-16 was quoted to remind us of a past example to not test God where the Israelites questioned if God was really with them despite Him just only providing them with manna. It is thus important for us to know the Scriptures in our hearts so that when temptation arrives, we can rely on God's framework for our life.

The devil has tempted Jesus by first saying "If you are the Son of God" (verses 3 and 9) - the temptation that comes to Jesus is then precisely because of the fact that He is the Son of God. What then is Jesus' role as the Son of God? Luke 3:38 tells us that Adam is the son of God. Jesus is then the representative or second Adam. However, unlike the first Adam, Jesus is not going to fall but is instead the obedient Son who lives by God's Word.

Jesus is also not just the representative Adam but a representation of Israel, with Israel being referred to as the firstborn Son of God in Old Testament (e.g. during the time when Pharaoh refused to let God's people go). Just as how God's people were led to the desert for 40 years during the exodus, Jesus was led to the wilderness for 40 days. He is indeed the true Israelite who does not give in and who will take us into the promised land and salvation. Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeds.

Jesus is also the Messiah described in Psalm 2. He is God's superhero who has to suffer first before attaining victory. The temptation is then to take the shortcut to attain victory without the suffering. Matthew 26:52-54 describes how Jesus has the power to call on all the angels so that He didn't need to be arrested but He didn't. All the temptations were then to lead Jesus away from the cross.

The phrase "until an opportune time" in verse 13 tells us that this is not the last temptation. We see an example of this in the same temptation of having the Kingdom without first going to the cross in Peter's rebuke where Jesus then rebuked back saying, "Get behind me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:21-23). In Luke 22:42-46, we see how Jesus prayed that His disciples would not fall into temptation. Similarly, we need to pray for God's will to be done first and foremost.

In order to understand victory over sin, we need to identify three things: the real enemy, the real temptation, and the real Son. There is a very real spiritual dimension in which Satan himself is the real enemy who wants us to fall - he is a liar and murderer from the very beginning. There is indeed a real temptation that Jesus did go through. Luke 22:44 describes the anguish that He experienced while Hebrews 4:15 describes Him as a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses for He is one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. In not giving in, He knows the depth and strength of the temptation as well as the pain that comes along after it, especially the temptation to not go to the cross.

Jesus represents us as the real Son of God, not just Adam or Israel but representing all of humanity. He is the Messiah who went through the real temptation but did not give in for us. If He did give in, He will not be perfect and as a consequence, we will be in hell for not being able to overcome the real temptation. Christ is not merely our example but our Saviour.

Hallelujah, what a Saviour!

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