Satan Trying Jesus' Faith in the WildernessVolume 3, Number 8
Created Date: September 30, 2008
Posted Date: September 30, 2008
The faith of Jesus: Satan's testing in the Wilderness - Part 5 - Recap:
Our last four Faith Studies examined the three temptations of Jesus by the Devil as recorded by Matthew (4:1 - 11) and Luke (4:1 - 13.) We noted the temptations in Matthew are basically the same as those in Luke, but not exactly, and the differences were pointed out as we studied them. This study will attempt to explain those differences.
First we note again that the Gospel writer Mark also alludes to the temptation/s, but without detail: "And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 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.". The impression left by Mark is that Jesus endured a series of temptations by Satan throughout 40 days and this is entirely possible because nothing in Matthew or Luke contradicts this. (We recall the trying of God's son Israel hundreds of years prior when Goliath came out every morning and evening for 40 days challenging someone from Israel to fight. , 8 - 10, 16. In that case, Israel failed the test. No one would take the challenge until David, God's anointed, did so by faith in God's Word.)
Matthew's account describes three temptations that occurred after Jesus fasted for 40 days. "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said,"a. Luke's account is similar to Mark's in the respect it appears Jesus was tempted throughout the 40 days of fasting. However Luke then goes on to describe three specific temptations that occurred after the 40-day period. "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. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God," a.
Some critics claim Matthew, Mark and Luke contradict each other in their accounts of the temptations, but they don't. In fact, they compliment one another, each emphasizing what their respective accounts reveal about Jesus. The four Gospel writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, presented Jesus in four different offices: Matthew presents Him as God's perfect King; Mark as God's perfect Servant; Luke as perfect Man. (John presented Him as God Himself and thus there is no record in John's account of the temptation/s for God cannot be tempted.) Experience in police work has shown that it is not unusual for several individuals to give different testimony after they all observed the same incident. You can put four people in a room to witness a brief episode of a crime acted out by actors/ actresses. Subsequently each of the four will inevitably come up with some facts that differ from what the others observed. One person may have noted the type and color of shoes and clothing; another may have observed haircuts or facial hair; another the presence or absence of tattoos; another dialects or accents, etc., etc. This occurs because each witness bases his/her observations on their individual past experience and background. However, put together they come up with a pretty good picture of what happened. Thus the Holy Spirit used the idiosyncrasies and backgrounds of Matthew, Mark and Luke respectively when inspiring them to write their accounts.
Putting Matthew, Mark and Luke together provides a picture of the Devil trying or testing Jesus throughout 40 days, after which at least six additional temptations occurred, i.e., the three recorded by Matthew and the three in Luke. Let's look at them again. The first temptations listed by both Matthew and Luke are as follows: Matthew quotes the Devil as saying: "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread,"while in the Devil is quoted as saying "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." These must be two different incidents because in Matthew the devil refers to stones (plural) while in Luke he pointed out a stone (singular.) Jesus answered the same both times by quoting part of as recorded in and : "man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live."
Matthew records the second temptation as follows: "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.". Luke records this as the third temptation: "And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." .
The third temptation documented by Matthew: "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.". Luke records this incident basically the same except he lists it as the second in order and quite notably, his record adds the Devil's claim that the kingdoms were his to give: "And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." . Jesus did not deny the kingdoms were Satan's to give. His response in each respective account is the same except for what He ordered the devil to do. In keeping with the fact Luke lists this as the second temptation Jesus is quoted as saying: "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." . Here Jesus told Satan to get behind Him, but He did not tell him leave. So it was that Satan subsequently came back with more. After the third temptation listed by Matthew Jesus summarily dismissed him and ended the ordeal: "Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." . Thus the three temptations listed in Matthew and those in Luke are most probably separate incidents, occurring at different times.
Jesus existed in eternity past as the Word of God,. He came to earth for a number of reasons: as Israel's Messiah; to save sinners; to dethrone and defeat Satan, etc. In order to accomplish this He did what no other man, because of inherent sin, could ever do. He lived a perfect life of faith and dependence on God the Father. And so He was/is both the Author and Finisher of faith, . He was faith personified: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." . His first recorded words after beginning His ministry as a man on earth were "it is written," Matthew 4:4, 6 & 7. His answer to Satan was from what was written, God's Word, upon which His life as man was based.