Trust Versus Temptation
Scripture: Luke 4:1-13
Before we read Luke 4, I want to remind you what happened just before this. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Chapter 3 verse 21:
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened,
22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Father says to Jesus – I love you. I claim you. I’m proud of you. Now, look at what happens immediately after that. This is chapter 4 verse 1.
1 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.
Notice that the Father confirms the identity of Jesus – the Son of God, loved, favored. But then the Father immediately sends Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil! “I love you Jesus, now go starve yourself almost to death, face off with my greatest enemy, and be radically obedient.”
Jesus doesn’t have any followers yet. He’s out there alone and He’s fighting a very old battle, one that was lost in the garden by Adam.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
The Devil doesn’t even try to change his tactics. Do you remember the serpent’s first words to Eve in Genesis 3? “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And here with Jesus, he’s still questioning what God said and he’s still talking about food.
Remember, what did the Father just say to Jesus? “You are my beloved Son.”
And what does Satan question? Exactly that statement! What is he asking Jesus to do? Prove it. Prove you’re the Son of God.
4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
How does Jesus respond? By quoting Scripture. Jesus believes what God says is true AND that He has nothing to prove.
As we read these temptations, we tend to focus on the surface. In fact, that’s even what most of the commentaries seem to focus on. What is the Devil using to tempt Jesus?
But the deeper question is one of trust and relationship. Are you really the Son of God? If so, then why has the Father sent you out here in this wilderness? Why are you hungry? Why are you suffering?
We face this same temptation all the time. Suffering comes into our life, and we immediately begin to question – does God really care about me? If so, then why is this happening? Why is this part of his plan for my life?
But if you look up the verse that Jesus quotes, it is found in Deuteronomy 8. And I want us to look at the context:
2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Moses was actually talking about real bread – manna. But it was bread that literally came from the Lord!
In other words, Jesus was not hungry because the Father had abandoned Him. Jesus believed that He was led to the wilderness to be tested – on purpose – and He trusts His Father will provide food when it’s time to eat!
But it’s not really about the food. It’s about trust. Trusting God is more necessary to our survival than food.
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.”
This is another play straight out of Genesis 3. The serpent told Eve that they could become “like God” by eating the fruit. The irony is that Adam and Eve were already “like God”. They were made in God’s image. But Satan offered them a short cut to something better. He suggested that God was holding something back from them.
He’s offering Jesus a similar short cut. The Messiah had been promised all the nations of the earth as an inheritance. But getting that inheritance meant a long, painful obedience including death on a cross.
Satan is suggesting that Jesus skip all of that and take power immediately.
We can understand this temptation as well. We don’t want promises of future blessings as much as we want immediate gratification. I want my best life now, God! I want my blessing now.
Name it and claim it, Jesus. That’s basically what the Devil is telling Jesus to do! Skip the suffering and get your blessing today. If you’ve ever heard teaching like that, it is false teaching and it comes from the first false teacher – the devil.
8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
It’s not surprising that Jesus refuses to worship Satan. But consider also what Jesus implies. As Ralph Davis writes, “It is better to worship the true God than to possess the world.” That’s what Jesus believes.
What about us? If you only had God – and none of the other blessings – would it be enough for you? Or, perhaps… are we guilty of worshipping God in an effort to get something from Him?
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,’
11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Now Satan tries quoting Scripture back to Jesus in an effort to convince Jesus to take this leap of faith. “If you want to know for sure that you’re the Son of God, that you’re really the Messiah, this will do it. God won’t let you fall. The Bible says so, Jesus. Let’s find out!”
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.
This final temptation teaches us something very important about faith.
Testing God is not a sign of faith. It’s actually a sign that we lack faith. Jesus responds by saying that He doesn’t need to put God to the test. Jesus already knows His Father loves Him. He already knows He can trust His Father, even when He’s hungry. Even when He’s suffering. Even when He’s fighting the enemy.
Finally, the Devil gives up and leaves. And it’s obvious what the Devil tried to do. He tried to drive a wedge between Jesus and the Father, just as he drove a wedge between Adam and God.
But Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. He met every temptation with perfect obedience… perfect commitment… perfect dependence on the Father.
And do you understand what that means?
In Adam, we are not who God wants us to be. We fail. We give in. We give up. We fail again.
But in Christ, it’s a different story. When we become united to Christ by faith, do you understand that God credits us with the perfect obedience of Jesus.
In other words, the person that God calls you to be is only possible because of who Jesus is.
It’s possible because Jesus went before us. He went alone. He succeeded alone.
And He did it so that we also could hear the words of the Father – “This is my beloved son… this is my beloved daughter… in whom I am well pleased.”
We will continue to face temptation every single day. The enemy will whisper carefully chosen lies in our ear. Did God really say this is wrong? Does God really expect me to do that? Why is God letting this happen to me?
And the answer must always be the same. I trust my Father. I know His Word. I know what He says about me in Christ, and that’s enough. Jeremiah 17:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”