“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
The Messiah Tested
(Please read Matthew 4:1-11)
Soon after Jesus’ baptism he was severely tested in the wilderness, facing three temptations broadly representative of all the temptations we may meet. Baptism does not mean that a person will never be tempted again. It does mean, though, that the baptized person now has help in overcoming temptations (see 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Hebrews 13:5). Since Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, there must have been a need for him to be tempted to fulfill God’s purposes for him.
The Greek word translated “temptation” in our Bible can also be translated “test.” Satan was tempting, while God was testing his Son. If he could have caused Jesus to sin just once, Satan would have wrecked his mission before it began, so Satan tried his hardest. At the same time God used Christ’s forty days in the wilderness as a time of testing, to prove his Son’s character and endurance. And Jesus came through, as we might say, with flying colors, delighting his Father and disappointing the evil one.
Some folks are troubled by the idea that Jesus could be tempted, thinking that temptation is wanting to do wrong and wanting to do wrong is sin. But the Bible declares that he was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). The sin is not in being tempted but in yielding to temptation.
God provides help, in the form of a way out of temptation, so that we can bear it. May we grow steadily in our ability to see his way and escape the tempter.