Don't be fooled thinking God's way is too hard.
The Temptation of Jesus
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4: 1) If you are unfamiliar with this temptation of Christ I would encourage you to first read Matthew 4: 1-11. Jesus was about to change from His life as a carpenter’s son to the time He will fulfill God’s plan. After forty days and nights of fasting in the desert, the devil will come to Him, and attempt to lead Him down a wrong path. In the Old Testament, we get the book of Deuteronomy. Like Jesus in the desert, God’s people were about to make a change of their own. After forty years of wondering in the desert, they were about to start a new life, and enter the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy, God gives His people instruction on dealing with this transition. It is interesting that when Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus responds by quoting from Deuteronomy.
In the first and second temptations, Satan begins with “…if you are the Son of God…”. Notice the word “if”. Satan knew exactly who Jesus was. There was no doubt in him. Remember, a voice from Heaven had just declared, “…This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3: 17) By using the word ‘if’, Satan was attempting to create doubt in Jesus’ mind. What a classic tool of the devil, trying to create doubt! Notice, however, how Jesus responds. In all three attempts by Satan to tempt Christ, Jesus begins with, “It is written…” When Satan began his lies, Jesus drew His strength and wisdom from the Scriptures. Let’s learn from that! “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 17)
In his first attempt, Satan said to Jesus, “….if You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4: 3) Jesus quoting from Deuteronomy 8: 3, “…Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4: 4). The devil then took Jesus to a high point and told Him to throw Himself off. If He was the Son of God, He would be protected. Here Satan quotes Scripture—Psalms 91: 11-12. (It may seem strange to you that Satan would be familiar with the Bible. “…for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (II Corinthians 11: 14)) This is another of Satan’s tricks, twisting the Word to accomplish his goals. The quote he cites is correct, but he leaves out a phrase. When Satan quotes the Psalm, he leaves out the phrase, “…to guard you in all your ways…” (vs. 11) Christ came to do the Father’s will, and this means to walk in HIS ways. Jesus did not try to argue with Satan, but instead pointed out why the devil’s proposal was in error. Quoting Deuteronomy 6: 16, Jesus said, “…Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matthew 4: 7) And, in his final attempt at this time, Satan offered Christ the world if He would bow down and worship him. Again, quoting from Deuteronomy 6: 13, Jesus said, “…Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4: 10)
All these attempts were designed to get Jesus to take a path apart from that prepared by God. Turning rocks to bread might seem to be an easier route. Surely Christ was hungry, but His faith was in God. God would see to His needs. Jumping off a high cliff, and sustaining no injury may have attracted a lot of followers, but that was not God’s plan. It would not have changed mankind’s heart, but a world won in this way would have led them to a desire for constant miracles. Having the worship of all the kingdoms of the world may have been the biggest lie of them all. Satan was offering something he could not deliver. Satan was trying very hard to get Jesus to deviate from the path God had prepared for Him. Remember when Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, He gave us the phrase, “thy will be done”. Sometimes we may be fooled in to thinking God’s way is too hard! We may think it is easier to live a life outside of Christ’s teachings. It may even seem that some people who shun God’s good word are succeeding. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14: 12) “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalms 1: 1-2) “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24: 14-15)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.