2007-10-31

The Temptations of Jesus

The Temptations of Jesus

Luke 4:1-13 and Mat 4:1-10. The order of temptations is different in the two records.
Luke has it as 1-if Son then rock to bread, 2-worship-me for earthly glory&power, 3-If Son then throw yourself down

Matthew has it as 1-if Son then rock to bread, 2-if Son then throw yourself down, 3-worship-me for earthly glory & power. We will follow the Matthew's order.

1. His Identity
  • Our identity determines who we are, how we think, what we value, what we do and what we become - our destination.
  • Our identity need not and cannot be validated by a third party. Do not let others or external things define who you are. If so, we will come under control of another and loose our own identity. e.g. most people derive their identity from their job. If you ask them who they are, they will reply, "I am a teacher, or an engineer or a businessman". It is no wonder that when they loose their job, they are lost and depressed. Legalism, following the letters without the spirit, is a form of control and abuse.
  • Hence, we can see Jesus need not prove to Satan or anyone about his identity. His identity is defined by God. He know where comes from and where He is going. Satan typical temptation is to cast doubt ... Are your sure ? Do it to prove it....
  • Satan challenged Jesus twice to prove His identity - 1st one is physical, stone to bread, appealed to Jesus' physical hunger need. Jesus show him that man is more than just physical ... man is spiritual and spiritual food is of greater importance. While bread is what Jesus need at this moment and it is legitimate and good for Jesus to have bread but 'doing the Right thing' at the right time in the right situation is more important than doing the good thing’.
  • For many of us, Satan through people around us, our parents, friends, bosses etc, through abuse, rejections, or shame tactics (some supposedly for our good), to tell us that we are defective, useless and weak. Our identify should be defined by God and not by others, or circumstances. Such lies about our identity should be corrected).
  • Joel Osteen had a good message on this. See Joel Osteen - Message #462 - "Don't Let People Label You
    2. Trustworthiness of God & Presumptuous Living
    • The 2nd temptation on identity was spiritual since the physical one did not work. First one challenges our identity. Second one challenges His beliefs in the Bible and the trustworthiness of God. This resembles Eve' temptation "Did God said?" with "Didn't God say?".
    • Satan quoted from the Bible to challenge Jesus (in answer to Jesus quoting the Bible to answer him. Just plainly quoting the bible is of no use. We must understand the Bible correctly so that Satan cannot use the Bible to mislead us). But the principle remained the same, man should follow God and not challenge God. Jesus has no need to prove to the devil of who he is. God has no need to prove to us that He is God. It is for us to know Him. God has revealed Himself to man in the creation and given us His word through the Bible and His Son Jesus.
    • Secondly, There is no need for Jesus to prove God's promises either. He knows and His will is to do the Father's will. If there be the need, the protection show show up. e.g. a very similar thing happened here ....
    • Luk 4:29-30 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (30) But passing through their midst, he went away.
    • This temptation has a further meaning - presumptuous living or life style. We have the promises in the Bible, but it does not mean we can take life for granted and live life carelessly or dangerously, testing the promises of God. God promises us good health and healing. But that does not mean we can live unhealthy lifestyles - drinking, taking drug, no rest, taking junk foods, etc....
    3. The Journey to Destination - A De Tour or Short Cut
    • When the devil fails in the 1st Identity challenge (he fails to get us to question who we are), he will tempt us to move away from the path that God want us to take.
    • Here, Satan want Jesus to take the short-cut to glory ... the instant gratification. It is let's make a deal now. Why go through the long and suffering process ? Do it, the shorter way to your destination.
    • There is no short-cut to maturity. It is paved with little steps of experience and learning and sometime overcoming large steps of tragedies, hurts, persecutions and betrayals.
    Some felt that the temptations of Jesus is similar to the temptations of Eve: 1st appeal to the flesh (Gen 3:6 good for food); 2nd pleasant to the eyes and 3rd make one wise like God and corresponding to 1 John 2:6 of lust of the flesh, eyes and pride of life(the glory).

    In summary. we must know and be sure of our identity and then of destination and then the journey of living life rightly, not good, to reach the destination and calling of God. There is only one way to live, the right way defined by the Bible. While there are many good and legitimate ways, appealing to the flesh, the mind, the pride of glory and power, there is only one Right way - Choose right, not just what seems to be good.

    This posting is influenced by the message of A R Bernard(highly recommended - He called it the cycle of temptations: identity -> destination -> lifestyle. Devil would want you to question your identity, misled your destination(short cut to false glory), get you to live in careless lifestyle(do the stun and let God protects you).) and some Bible Commentaries.

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