Day 21, Friday, March 16, 2012
Jesus calmly confronted Satan in the wilderness and was able to come triumphant out of this experience because of His dependence on God’s Word. In the last temptation, Jesus had to finally rebuke Satan and charged him to leave Him alone (see Matthew 4:10). Satan left Him, but Luke adds a very significant little detail that is not found in any other gospel. He writes: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). You might recall that at the beginning of this Lenten devotional we saw that Jesus’ temptations were not limited to just three mentioned here. In fact, He was tempted throughout His earthly life and yet remained sinless. There is an absorbing theological debate about the issue whether Jesus could have sinned or not or whether he was capable of sinning. We don’t want to digress into this dispute now. I would rather leave it for some other day, God willing.
Luke 4:13 is clear that Satan only temporarily departed from Jesus in the wilderness, but just because Jesus prevailed over him does not mean that Satan threw up his hands and quit forever. Jesus encountered the devil and His tricks all through His ministry in one form or the other. Sometimes the temptations came in the form of His enemies and occasionally in the form of His own disciples. For example, do you remember what Jesus once said to Peter, when he wished that Jesus would not die? – “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16: 23 NIV). Temptation is not a sin, and in Jesus’ case God’s Spirit initiated and permitted Satan to tempt Jesus. Luke also tells us that temptation is not a once and for all event. No temptation is resisted permanently not to be tempted again by the same kinds of temptation or to fall into a similar one time and again. Luke says that Satan always looks for an opportunity to tempt us at the point when we may be in the most vulnerable situation. For example, at the point of Jesus’ most vulnerability in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his disciples to “pray that you may not enter into temptation.” However, he went further ahead of them and prayed for the removal of the cup of suffering that he knew He had to come to drink (Luke 22: 39-44). The book of Hebrews (4:15) tells that Jesus was tempted in every area and thus He is able to help us when Satan brings before us the temptation that we thought we had resisted one and for all. May we take refuge in Jesus when we are tempted and learn from His experience? Amen.
- Temptation of Jesus (tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com)