Tempted Savior

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
~ Luke 3:22

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
~ Isaiah 11:2-4

And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
~ Mark 1:12-13

And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
~ Exodus 24:18

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
~ 1 Kings 19:8

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
~ Genesis 3:15

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
~ Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15

A Tempted Savior, by J. C. Ryle. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Expository Thoughts on Luke, Volume One”.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
—Luke 4:1-2

The first event recorded in our Lord’s history, after His baptism, is His temptation by the devil. From a season of honor and glory He passed immediately to a season of conflict and suffering. First came the testimony of God the Father: “Thou art my beloved Son.” Then came the sneering suggestion of Satan: “If thou be the Son of God…” The portion of Christ will often prove [to be] the portion of Christians. From great privilege to great trial there will often be but a step.

Let us first mark in this passage, the power and unwearied malice of the devil. That old serpent who tempted Adam to sin in Paradise was not afraid to assault the second Adam, the Son of God. Whether he understood that Jesus was “God…manifest in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16) may perhaps be doubted. But that he saw in Jesus one who had come into the world to overthrow his kingdom is clear and plain. He had seen what happened at our Lord’s baptism. He had heard the marvelous words from heaven. He felt that the great Friend of man was come and that his own dominion was in peril. The Redeemer had come. The prison door was about to be thrown open. The lawful captives were about to be set free. All this, we need not doubt, Satan saw and resolved to fight for his own. The prince of this world would not give way to the Prince of peace without a mighty struggle. He had overcome the first Adam in the Garden of Eden; why should he not overcome the second Adam in the wilderness? He had spoiled man once of Paradise; why should he not spoil him of the kingdom of God?

Let it never surprise us if we are tempted by the devil. Let us rather expect it as a matter of course if we are living members of Christ. The Master’s lot will be the lot of His disciples. That mighty spirit who did not fear to attack Jesus Himself, is still going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That murderer and liar, who vexed Job and overthrew David and Peter, still lives and is not yet bound. If he cannot rob us of heaven, he will at any rate make our journey thither painful. If he cannot destroy our souls, he will at least bruise our heels (Gen 3:15). Let us beware of despising him or thinking lightly of his power. Let us rather put on the whole armor of God and cry to the strong for strength. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jam 4:7).

Let us mark, secondly, our Lord Jesus Christ’s ability to sympathize with those that are tempted. This is a truth that stands out prominently in this passage. Jesus has been really and literally tempted Himself. It was meet that He Who came to “destroy the works of the devil” should begin His own work by a special conflict with Satan. It was meet that the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls should be fitted for His earthly ministry by strong temptation, as well as by the Word of God and prayer. But above all, it was meet that the great High Priest and advocate of sinners should be one who has had personal experience of conflict and has known what it is to be in the fire. And this was the case with Jesus. It is written that “He…suffered being tempted” (Heb 2:18). How much He suffered, we cannot tell. But that His pure and spotless nature did suffer intensely, we may be sure.

Let all true Christians take comfort in the thought that they have a Friend in heaven Who can be touched with the feeling of their infirmities (Heb 4:15). When they pour out their hearts before the throne of grace and groan under the burden that daily harasses them, there is One making intercession Who knows their sorrows. Let us take courage. The Lord Jesus is not an austere man. He knows what we mean when we complain of temptation and is both able and willing to give us help.

Let us mark, thirdly, the exceeding subtlety of our great spiritual enemy, the devil. Three times we see him assaulting our Lord and trying to draw Him into sin. Each assault showed the hand of a master in the art of temptation. Each assault was the work of one acquainted by long experience with every weak point in human nature. Each deserves an attentive study.

Satan’s first device was to persuade our Lord to distrust His Father’s providential care. He comes to Him, when weak and exhausted with forty days’ hunger, and suggests to Him to work a miracle to gratify a carnal appetite. Why should He wait any longer? Why should the Son of God sit still and starve? Why not “command this stone that it be made bread” (Luk 4:3)?

Satan’s second device was to persuade our Lord to grasp at worldly power by unlawful means. He takes Him to the top of a mountain and shows Him “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” (Luk 4:5). All these he promises to give Him if He will but “fall down and worship him” (Luk 4:7). The concession was small. The promise was large. Why not by a little momentary act obtain an enormous gain?

Satan’s last device was to persuade our Lord to an act of presumption. He takes Him to a pinnacle of the temple and suggests to Him to cast Himself down (Luk 4:9). By so doing He would give public proof that He was one sent by God. In so doing, He might even depend on being kept from harm. Was there not a text of Scripture which specially applied to the Son of God in such a position? Was it not written that angels should bear Him up (Luk 4:10-11)?

On each of these three temptations, it would be easy to write much. Let it be sufficient to remind ourselves that we see in them the three favorite weapons of the devil. Unbelief, worldliness, and presumption are three grand engines that he is ever working against the soul of man, and by which he is ever enticing him to do what God forbids and to run into sin. Let us remember this and be on our guard. The acts that Satan suggests to us to do are often in appearance trifling and unimportant. But the principle involved in each of these little acts, we may be sure, is nothing short of rebellion against God. Let us not be ignorant of Satan’s devices.

Let us mark lastly, the manner in which our Lord resisted Satan’s temptations. Three times we see Him foiling and baffling the great enemy who assaulted Him. He does not yield a hair’s breadth to him. He does not give him a moment’s advantage. Three times we see Him using the same weapon in reply to Satan’s temptations: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). He Who was “full of the Holy Ghost” (Luk 4:1) was yet not ashamed to make the Holy Scripture His weapon of defense and His rule of action.

Let us learn from this single fact if we learn nothing else from this wondrous history: the high authority of the Bible and the immense value of a knowledge of its contents. Let us read it, search into it, pray over it, diligently, perseveringly, unweariedly. Let us strive to be so thoroughly acquainted with its pages that its text may abide in our memories and stand ready at our right hand in the day of need. Let us be able to appeal from every perversion and false interpretation of its meaning to those thousand plain passages, which are written as it were with a sunbeam. The Bible is indeed a sword, but we must take heed that we know it well if we would use it with effect.

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