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Wordwise Insight, Issue #144
August 14, 2016


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): Why was the Lord Jesus tempted by the devil?

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Jesus Temptation

QUESTION: Why was Jesus led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil?

ANSWER: The temptation of Christ by Satan is described in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13, as well as being summarized briefly in Mark 1:12-13.

You ask why the Lord Jesus was tempted. Certainly God had a purpose in it, as we shall see. But so did the devil. I’m sure he wasn’t certain what he was dealing with. The incarnation was a new thing, and utterly unique. That “the Word became flesh” (Jn. 1:14), that God the Son could become Man, is a great mystery.

Did it mean He had become something less that God? No, it didn’t–but perhaps Satan didn’t know that. What if, as Man, the Lord was less powerful? What if the devil could defeat Him, hinder the work of God, and prevent the salvation of multitudes of people? The devil was experiencing temptation too, arising from his own wicked heart!

Notice the devil’s three “if’s” in Matthew 4, verses 3, 6, and 9. And see how, each time a temptation comes, the Lord Jesus defends Himself from the attack by quoting from the Word of God.

1) “If You are the Son of God?” (vs. 3). Satan questioned Christ’s identity. “If You are who You claim to be, You should have the power to meet your own needs–by turning these stones into bread.”

Of course Christ was fully able to do that, but He would only act in such a way if it was the Father’s will (vs. 4; quoting Deut. 8:3). It’s the same for us. We should not act to please ourselves in something outside God’s Word and will.

2) “If You are the Son of God” (vs. 6), again questioning Christ’s identity, but this time suggesting, “If You are whom You claim to be, then God the Father should be willing to protect and care for you.” In essence, "If You are committed to doing Your Father's will, surely He will act to protect You."

But this would have involved a frivolous demand upon the Father’s care, a “tempting” of God. It would be like...

(To read the remainder of this article, click on Jesus Temptation.)


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I have developed a blog that is called Wordwise Hymns. As the title suggests, it is about hymns, and church music in general.

But as many of you will know, a blog is especially designed to facilitate a conversation on its particular subject. Readers can easily post comments about what they see, and I'm able to reply. I hope you will take part in the discussion!

Through 2010, almanac entries dealt with what happened in hymn history on each day of the year. Beginning in 2011, I hope to analyze hymns from a biblical standpoint, linking to the material that has come before.

My hope is that the blog will add to the value of the website and this newsletter, and promote some profitable exchanges on the subject of sacred music.

What happened on this day in hymnology? To find out, click Wordwise Hymns.

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