Tuesday afternoon I was doing some journaling around the following passage of Scripture and saw a few things I had never really see on understood before. Read and consider …
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Luke 4:1-13 (NIV)
It’s so interesting to me that with each reading of a passage of Scripture, God reveals just a bit more truth behind it … and as I cut and pasted the Scripture into this post and bolded certain words within I suddenly realized that Jesus revealed that truth in this passage. Let me explain …
It’s obvious from this encounter with the devil, that Jesus had studied and knew Scripture … yes, Jesus was both 100% man and 100% God … but to deal with this temptation as a man, I would expect that God’s plan would have called for Jesus to learn Scripture as a man.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
Psalm 119:9-16 (ESV)
Jesus responded to the first two temptations with the words ‘It is written’ followed by a verse of Scripture. Then Satan gets wise to the response and includes ‘It is written’ followed by Scripture in the temptation.
This brings us to a pivotal point in the third temptation … in His response Jesus says ‘It is said’.
Scripture is not just written like any other book … the Scripture also speaks … it has a voice … the Holy Spirit.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
And as the above temptation passage reveals in the very first verse, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit … absent the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit, all the devil can get out of Scripture is what is written … for Jesus … for the believer … God’s voice is heard through the teaching of the Scripture through the Holy Spirit.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
Something else I saw for the first time I never saw before …
The battle in the desert was about leadership … lordship.
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. In the second temptation, Scripture says the devil led him up to a high place. In the third temptation, Scripture says the devil led him to Jerusalem.
Being led by the devil is temptation … succumbing to that temptation … being held captive by the devil … is sin.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (ESV)
Finally, at least for this reading, preceding the first and third temptation the devil said “IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD”. As 100% God, Jesus could have definitely responded to the tempting challenges issued by the devil.
“IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD” is a temptation for the man Jesus to do what Satan desired … not what God desired or according to God’s timing.
As 100% man, to do so would have basically been a replay of the forbidden fruit … Jesus the man would have chosen to be like God … endgame for the rescue of mankind … but …
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
Praise God for the victory in the desert … the victory on the cross!
(Author’s note: I got so frustrated with response time Tuesday night that prevented me from completing this post … only to have the Spirit reveal to me Wednesday how important the then-absent passages above from Psalms 119, Hebrews 4, 2 Timothy 2 and Philippians 2 were to what He wanted me to understand and to be written … mysterious ways indeed)