Lesson 22 | Sabbath, 30 May 2020
“After the baptism of Jesus in Jordan, He was led by the Spirit into the wilder- ness, to be tempted of the devil. The Holy Spirit had prepared Him for that special scene of fierce temptations. Forty days He was tempted of Satan, and in those days He ate nothing. Everything around Him was unpleasant, from which human nature would be led to shrink. He was with the wild beasts and the devil, in a desolate, lonely place. The Son of God was pale and emaciated, through fasting and suffering. But His course was marked out, and He must fulfill the work which He came to do.” –Early Writings, p. 155.
Temptation at the most basic levels
- How many days did Jesus spend fasting in the desert? For what purpose did He go there?
Luke 4:1, 2 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
Mark 1:12, 13 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
“When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, He was led by the Spirit of God. He did not invite temptation. He went to the wilderness to be alone, to contemplate His mission and work. By fasting and prayer He was to brace Him- self for the bloodstained path He must travel. But Satan knew that the Saviour had gone into the wilderness, and he thought this the best time to approach Him.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 114.
- What doubt did the devil try to plant in Jesus’ mind? What did he hope to accomplish while Jesus was hungry and very weak after the long fast that He passed through to prepare for His mission to save mankind?
Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
“Satan took advantage of the sufferings of the Son of God and prepared to beset Him with manifold temptations, hoping to obtain the victory over Him, be- cause He had humbled Himself as a man. Satan came with this temptation: ‘If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.’ He tempted Jesus to condescend to give him proof of His being the Messiah, by exercising His divine power….
“Satan was seeking a dispute with Jesus concerning His being the Son of God. He referred to His weak, suffering condition and boastingly affirmed that he was stronger than Jesus. But the word spoken from heaven, ‘Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased,’ was sufficient to sustain Jesus through all His sufferings. I saw that Christ had nothing to do in convincing Satan of His power or of His being the Saviour of the world. Satan had sufficient evidence of the exalted station and authority of the Son of God. His unwillingness to yield to Christ’s authority had shut him out of heaven.” –Early Writings, pp. 155, 156.
- How did Jesus’ reply show that life requires no one to do what the tempt- er demands? What food is necessary for spiritual, eternal life?
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
John 4:34; 6:51 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work…. 6:51I am the living bread which came down from heav- en: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
“He told Satan that in order to prolong life, obedience to God’s requirements was more essential than temporal food. To pursue a course of deviation from the purposes of God, in the smallest degree, would be more grievous than hunger or death.” –(Redemption: or The First Advent of Christ, p. 48) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1083.
“When Christ bore the test of temptation upon the point of appetite, He did not stand in beautiful Eden, as did Adam, with the light and love of God seen in everything His eye rested upon. But He was in a barren, desolate wilderness, sur- rounded with wild beasts. Everything around Him was repulsive, and [that] from which human nature would be inclined to shrink. With these surroundings He fast- ed forty days and forty nights, ‘and in those days He did eat nothing.’ Luke 4:2. He was emaciated through long fasting, and felt the keenest sense of hunger. His visage was indeed marred more than the sons of men.
“Christ thus entered upon His life of conflict to overcome the mighty foe, in bearing the very test Adam failed to endure, that, through successful conflict, He might break the power of Satan, and redeem the race from the disgrace of the Fall.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 272.
- To what risk was Jesus exposed in the second temptation? Bread might be necessary for physical life, but what would be the value of jumping off the pinnacle of the temple?
Matthew 4:5, 6 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6And 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.
“Satan, to manifest his power, carried Jesus to Jerusalem, and set Him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and there tempted Him to give evidence that He was the Son of God, by casting Himself down from that dizzy height…. Satan wished to cause Jesus to presume upon the mercy of His Father and risk His life before the fulfillment of His mission. He had hoped that the plan of salvation would fail; but the plan was laid too deep to be overthrown or marred by Satan.
“… Christians … should not feel that they have a right to call upon the Lord to display His power that they may obtain a victory over their enemies, unless God can be directly honored and glorified thereby. If Jesus had cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple, it would not have glorified His Father; for none would have witnessed the act but Satan and the angels of God. And it would have been tempting the Lord to display His power to His bitterest foe. It would have been condescending to the one whom Jesus came to conquer.” –Early Writings, pp. 156, 157.
- What did Jesus’ answer show that such an action would really be? What can one expect if he deliberately does something that is foolish or danger- ous?
Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Psalm 91:10-12 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
“Jesus would not place Himself in peril to please the devil. But how many to- day can stand a dare?” –(Manuscript 17, 1893) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Com- mentary, vol. 5, p. 1083.
“Often when Satan has failed of exciting distrust, he succeeds in leading us to presumption. If he can cause us to place ourselves unnecessarily in the way of temptation, he knows that the victory is his. God will preserve all who walk in the path of obedience; but to depart from it is to venture on Satan’s ground. There we are sure to fall. The Saviour has bidden us, ‘Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ Mark 14:38.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 126.
“Christ was firm. Oh! where would now be the salvation of the race if Christ had been as weak in moral power as man? No wonder that joy filled heaven as the fallen chief left the wilderness of temptation, a conquered foe. Christ has power from His Father to give His divine grace and strength to man–making it possible for us through His name to overcome. There are but few professed followers of Christ who choose to engage with Him in the work of resisting Satan’s temptation as He resisted and overcame.” –Confrontation, p. 63.
Wealth, glory, power, and false worship
- What human weak point did the tempter use to try to make the Son of God worship him and thus become one of his subjects?
Matthew 4:8, 9 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
“This last temptation was the most alluring of the three. Satan knew that Christ’s life must be one of sorrow, hardship, and conflict. And he thought he could take advantage of this fact to bribe Christ to yield His integrity. Satan brought all his strength to bear upon this last temptation, for this last effort was to decide his destiny as to who should be victor. He claimed the world as his dominion, and he was the prince of the power of the air…. He told Christ He could come into possession of the kingdoms of the world without suffering or peril on His part. Satan promises to yield his scepter and dominion, and Christ shall be rightful ruler for one favor from Him. All he requires in return for making over to Him the kingdoms of the world that day presented before Him, is, that Christ shall do him homage as to a superior.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 286.
- To Jesus, were the kingdoms of the world or the kingdom of God more important? If man allows the desire for the world’s wealth and glory to flash into his mind, to whom does he make himself a servant?
Matthew 4:10, 11; 6:33 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. 11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him…. 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
“This presumptuous blasphemy, and insult to Jehovah, excited the indignation of Christ, and led Him to exercise His divine authority, and command Satan in an authoritative, dignified manner to desist. Here Satan, in his pride and arrogance, declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its glory, as though he had created the world and all the riches and glory contained in it….
“He told Jesus that he would relinquish his claims of the possessions of earth. Satan knew that his power must be limited, and finally taken away, if the plan of salvation should be carried out. He knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power would end after a season, and he would be destroyed. Therefore it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man’s redemption should fail, he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed.” –(Redemption: or The First Advent of Christ, pp. 50, 51) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1119.
For additional study
“Christ’s victory was as complete as had been the failure of Adam.
“So we may resist temptation, and force Satan to depart from us. Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle He says to us, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.’ James 4:7, 8. We cannot save our- selves from the tempter’s power; he has conquered humanity, and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become a prey to his devices; but ‘the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.’ Proverbs 18:10. Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 130, 131.