Jesus and temptation
When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. Luke 4:13
When we talk about Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, it might sound as if those were the only times when he was tempted. However, Luke makes it clear that this was not the case. The devil was always looking for his “next opportunity” to get at Jesus. It was an inevitable part of being fully human. As the writer to the Hebrews put it: “he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
The truth is that Jesus had a greater experience of temptation than we will ever do, because sadly we, at times, give in to temptation. Jesus never did, and so he experienced the full power of it. And this continued throughout his ministry. Even on the cross he was tempted by the words of the soldiers, who mocked him, saying: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself” (Luke 23:37). There is no doubt that he could have done precisely that, but he knew he had to resist the temptation.
This topic might sound incredibly negative, but the reason for reflecting on it is completely positive. First of all, we have the encouragement of knowing that Jesus fully understands what we go through. But, more than that, his Spirit is with us as we confront temptation. We are not on our own. In writing to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote: “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If you are an elite athlete, your coach will do everything they can to encourage you to steer clear of the things that will slow you down. If you are sitting an exam, your teacher will seek to help you avoid distraction, so you can give your full energy to the task in hand. So we shouldn’t be surprised that our loving, heavenly Father wants to do everything he possibly can to help us resist temptation so that we can be the best we can possibly be for him.
In what ways does it help you to know that Jesus himself was tempted?
Lord Jesus, thank you that you understand what it means to be tempted, and that you send your Spirit to strengthen me each day. Amen