Thanks for joining this Bible study. I hope you will be inspired and learn something new about our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s topic, known as the “Temptation of Jesus,” is recorded in three gospels: (Matthew 4:1-11), (Mark 1:12-13), and (Luke 4:1-13) —when Jesus and the devil had a dramatic confrontation, and Jesus showed both his divinity and humanity. This seminal event immediately followed Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River, which marked the beginning of His earthly ministry,
As reflected in the title, during His 40 days of temptation (see last week’s study about the number 40) — Jesus quoted three verses from Deuteronomy, the fifth and final book of The Torah — a compilation of the “five books of Moses.” Deuteronomy is also the fifth book in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
Why does it matter that Jesus quoted Deuteronomy? A two-part answer is needed, and part one is foundational. First, having been born and raised Jewish but believing Jesus Christ is the Jewish Messiah — I think my people should know that Jesus fulfilled numerous Hebrew Bible Messianic prophecies — but most do not.
The second reason is directly related to why it matters that Jesus quoted from the Torah while enduring the devil’s temptation — an example of how, at a critical moment, Jesus’s teaching linked the New Testament with the Old. Hence, rabbis should teach their congregations when and why Jesus quoted Hebrew Scripture. Unfortunately, connections between the New and Old Testament verses involving Jesus are generally ignored or rationalized as faulty Christian interpretations or inaccurate translations.
Specifically, these temptation passages are powerful because the devil twice taunted Jesus as the “Son of God” — a name associated with the coming of the Messiah throughout Hebrew Scripture. Thought-provoking too is that the devil quotes Hebrew Scripture from Psalm 91, called the “prayer of protection,” as discussed in Vol. 10.
Before we dive into the passages, notice that the Deuteronomy and Psalm verses are shown in bold. Also, note that Luke 4:2 only references how, similar to Jesus, Moses went 40 days and 40 nights without bread and water before receiving the Ten Commandments from God. But then, in Luke 4:4, 4:8, and 4:12, Jesus directly quotes Deuteronomy. Now, let’s read the Word of God:
“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, [Deuter. 9:9] and at the end of them he was hungry” (Luke 4:1-2).
“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’ ” [Deuter. 8:3].
“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’ ” [Deuter. 6:13] (Luke 4:3-8). (Note: some translations use “fear” instead of “worship.”)
“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’ ” [Psalm 91:11-12]. “Jesus answered, ‘It is said: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ ” [Deut. 6:16]. When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time ” (Luke 4:9-13).
So, what did we learn about Jesus? First, since Jesus was human, he was hungry but refused to use His power to satisfy His bodily needs. That was true throughout his ministry.
Second, Jesus rejects the devil’s offer to worship him and have power over “all the kingdoms” with their “authority and splendor” without first suffering and dying on the cross. Note that Jesus does not argue or contradict the devil’s claim that he possesses power over all the kingdoms.
Third, quoting from the Torah, Jesus rebuffs the Psalm-quoting devil who taunts Him. The devil casts doubt on Jesus, saying, “if you are the Son of God” — yet wants Jesus to use his Divine power to jump from the temple mount so angels could catch Him — proving His Messianic identity just after His baptism. All three would misuse Jesus’s power, and precisely why the devil is trying to trick Jesus into doing these acts.
What can we learn from Jesus’s encounter with the devil? First, Jesus rejected Satan, “who prowls around the earth seeking the ruin of souls” — to quote a famous prayer — and we must reject him too.
Second, we must strive to be Christ-like in our lives, so we can repel dark forces looking for a weakness in which to gain a foothold and launch an attack. Since we are human, we all have these weaknesses but can rely on Jesus to help us reject sin in its many forms.
Third, Jesus fought the devil using the Word of God. You, too, can study Scripture and then fortify yourself and fend off evil. Doubt and fear are the devil’s favorite tools. When he tries to use them, arm yourself by trusting, loving, and worshipping the Lord.
Finally, when you feel weak from wrestling with temptation or are under spiritual attack, remember to quote what Jesus said at the end of Matthew’s verses about this same event: “Away from me, Satan!” Try saying that today if evil is tempting or attacking you. Amen!
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of the Museum of the Bible’s opening events for its high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin, open through July 31. Contact: [email protected] or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Note: Liberty Unyielding does not belong to a particular religion, and welcomes all readers regardless of religion.