Spiritual Growth_03

Centuries passed with God’s people in their on-again-off-again relationship with God. It came time for God to keep his promise that he had made back at the time of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden that he was going to send a seed that would eventually bruise Satan in the head, which is a deathblow. Yes, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [born as a human about 02 B.C.E.], that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Jesus was going to serve as the chief witness to the truth of the Father.

After his baptism in 29 C.E. by John the Baptist, Jesus went out into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, which left him weak and hungry. It was then that Satan chose to tempt Jesus, waiting until he was in a weakened condition. Read carefully as Satan offers the first temptation for Jesus’ mind:

Luke 4:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus’ First Temptation

First, Satan played on Jesus’ natural desire for food, as he deliberately waited until Jesus was in a weakened state from fasting. In addition, Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God, as he had been in heaven with him. Notice how he is attempting to attack Jesus’ hunger, by starting his accusation with “if,” to get Jesus to use his powers for selfish gain. In other words, he wanted Jesus to be annoyed and say, ‘You know I am the Son of God, so watch as I turn these stones into bread!’ Was Jesus tempted into a selfish act, a needful feeling of proving himself right? No, Jesus did not permit Satan to bait him into rebellion.

Luke 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”[1]

Jesus’ Second Temptation

Luke 4:5-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And he led him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in a moment of time. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if you bow down before me, it shall all be yours.”

One way of being emphatic in the Greek language is to front word(s) before others, and in this case, the second person pronoun (soi, “to you”) was fronted to the beginning of the Greek sentence by Luke to show just how important this question was. The English is not able to bring this out well, but the Greek makes it all too clear. What Satan was saying, is a bit like what a car salesperson might say,[2] ‘Look, this deal is for you and you alone!’ Did Jesus even slightly consider Satan’s offer? No, he responds,

Luke 4:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Jesus’ Third Temptation,

Luke 4:9-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And he led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

Notice that Satan even quotes Scripture, but of course twists it to suit his misleading benefits. This temptation is much more subtle than one might think. Satan wanted Jesus to get caught up in himself, and take the easy way out, as opposed to the humble three and half year ministry that lay ahead. If Jesus had stood on the top of the pinnacle of the temple, at a time of the day when everyone was out, with all gathered to see him there; it would have made his ministry easier. Because if he had leaped in front of thousands of onlookers, and angels came to rescue him before he hit the ground, many would have had faith in him, based on his showmanship. However, Jesus knew his Father’s will was for him to have an education ministry of three and a half years, a ministry of humility. Moreover, how did Jesus feel about doing the will of the Father? Here are his own words, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

Matthew 4:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”[3]

On many other occasions, Jesus used the Scriptures to help unsuspecting people escape Satan’s influences, as well as those of the overbearing Jewish religious leaders, who were twisting the Scriptures for their ill-gotten gains. Jesus made more than 120 references or quotations from the Old Testament Scriptures, from over half the books of the Hebrew Old Testament, in his three and half year ministry. This may appear to be trivial when you think of a three and half year ministry. However, notice what John says about Jesus, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book.” (John 20:30)

John also said, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) Thus, if we take everything Jesus said in the Gospels, it would only amount to 3-4 hours of speaking. Now imagine four speakers at a religious assembly, giving an hour talk each, and each of them referencing or quoting some 30 Scriptures in their allotted hour. These would be considered highly biblical talks. Moreover, Jesus usually never had any scrolls in front of him. Therefore, his quotes and references were from memory. In the famous Sermon on the Mount, he directly or indirectly referenced dozens of Scriptures from memory.

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[1] Quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3

[2] I borrowed the car salesman analogy off of Dr. Darrell Bock, but it is a bit revised.

[3] A quotation from  Deut. 6:16