We are busy looking at the second temptation. In the last two weeks, we have examined two tactics Satan used in his temptation of Jesus. Today, we will study Jesus’ answer to the devil.
First, Jesus says, “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Jesus’ answer harks back to Deut. 6:16, where Moses says, “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.” In Massah, the children of Israel demanded Moses that he give them water to drink (Ex. 17:1-7). The people murmured against Moses, asking why he brought them out of Egypt to kill them with thirst. The people tempted the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not” (Ex. 17:7)? Israel was saying this: “if the LORD is among us, then He will give us water; if we do not get our water, it must be that the LORD is not among us.” The Israelites asked Jehovah to do something He revealed He was not pleased to do. Had they not seen how He preserved them, provided for them, and protected them as they came out of Egypt?
By referring to this passage, Jesus was saying that the devil also was asking Jesus, and the Father, to do something contrary to the revealed Word. God never said that He would send His angels to deliver one who might jump off the temple – not in Psalm 91, either. If Jesus would jump, He would be doing so in deliberate disobedience to God’s Word.
Second, Jesus identifies Himself as the Lord God. Jesus was the object of the devil’s temptation. By His answer, not only was Jesus saying that the devil was tempting the Father, but that He was tempting the Son of God – Jesus Himself, very God. That Jesus is God is clear not only from this passage, but also from all of Scripture. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and my Father are one.” Matt. 1:23 states: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Who was the devil, a created being, much less a fallen angel, to be questioning God Himself? To be tempting God, the Lord, the ruler over all things?
We must know the dreadfulness of tempting God. When we tempt Him, we are asking Him to do something He said He is not pleased to do. How horrible our tempting God is! We, the creation, are demanding something of the Creator; we, the lowly clay, are shouting at the potter. We do not trust God, or even acknowledge His existence, unless he fulfills our stipulations. Tempting God is a horrible thing indeed.
What were some implications of Jesus’ answer? In the first place, Jesus’ life would be full of suffering. He would not tread the easy, wide path. We, too, can count on a life full of hardship. Satan seeks every day to capitalize on our impatience. He knows our sinful flesh all too well. But we ought not to find the quick way out of our suffering, for a life full of sorrow is God’s will for us. Suffering, as the Bible tells us, is not an abnormality, but is the reality of the Christian life!
In the second place, Jesus indicated that He would not perform a stunt (throwing Himself down from the pinnacle and being caught by angels) in order to impress the people below, and prove His Sonship. Rather, His would be the path of unpopularity and mocking from without. We too, young people, must not look to walk a path of popularity in this world. If you and I enjoy the approval of men, there may be something wrong with our walk. To resist the devil’s temptations will also make us unattractive to the wicked, and invite the reproach of others.
The path is difficult. Only by God’s grace do we tread this winding, rocky, treacherous road of suffering. But be assured, Jesus our high priest will carry us the whole way through. He is faithful. He knows the temptations we face, and He runs to our aid in the time of trouble.
The third temptation, next time.