- Compare the different accounts of the temptation of Jesus as contained in the synoptic gospels,
- Explain the significance of each of the temptation of Jesus,
- List temptations young people face in the world today,
- Describe how Jesus overcome the temptation,
- Recognise that no one is above temptation.
Lesson Summary / Discussion
The Temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1 – 11, Mark 1:12 – 13, Luke 4:1 – 13)
Temptation means to persuade or entice a person to do something wrong or unwise. Everyone on earth is constantly under temptation to do one thing or the other, depending on the circumstances one finds oneself. In most cases, people are tempted through their mind. What constitutes temptation to people, in most cases, has to do with their heart’s desire. People are tempted to pursue their heart desire contrary to what they are expected to do.
The temptation of Jesus Christ is evidence that temptation is normal for every human being, but to yield to temptation is abnormal and a sin. Christ was tempted but he never yielded to temptation. Therefore, this topic is treated and considered with the view that the reader would see how Christ was able to overcome his temptation and understand that with proper discipline of mind based on the word of God, one can always overcome temptation.
The account of the temptation of Jesus was recorded by the three synoptic gospel writers: Matthew, Mark and Luke. They all recorded that after baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days. There he was tempted by the devil. However, Mark did not give detailed account of the temptation. Matthew and Luke were more detailed in their accounts but the sequence of the temptation, as they presented it, differs. However, Matthew’s account of the temptation is much more detailed than all the other synoptic gospels; therefore, we shall take the account of Matthew as our narrative framework.
Matthew recorded that immediately after the baptism of Jesus Christ, he was led into the wilderness where he fasted forty days and forty nights and afterwards when he was hungry, Satan came to tempt him. First Satan said to him: “if you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” To this, Christ replied Satan that it is written: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.
In the second temptation, Satan took Jesus to the Holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, “if you are the son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will give his angels charge over you and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone”. Jesus replied Satan: “you shall not tempt the Lord your God”.
In the third temptation, Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of this world and their glory and said he would give all these to Jesus Christ if he could fall down and worship him (Satan). Jesus said to Satan, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” Then the devil left Jesus and the angels of the Lord came and ministered to him.
The Reasons For The Temptation Of Jesus
i. The temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness was to make him lose focus of his messiahship and follow the wrong ideas of the Jews about the expected messiah. The first temptation was aimed at making Jesus give more attention to physical needs (food) rather than spiritual needs (the word of God).
ii. The second temptation was to make Jesus appear like a magician with spiritual skills like jumping from great height of the temple. This would have amounted to cheap popularity that would only draw attention to him rather than the heavenly home of God which was the main purpose of his earthly ministry.
iii. The third temptation was to detail Jesus from his ministerial and spiritual assignment, change his focus which was the heavenly kingdom of God and make him pursue political kingdom and acquire political power. Although, this was the desire of the Jews at that time, because they wanted a political messiah who would liberate them from Roman domination, Christ did not come for that purpose. He was a spiritual messiah. Therefore, he did not succumb to the temptation.
Significance of Jesus Temptation on His ministry
i. The temptation confirmed the divinity of Christ.
ii. Through the temptation, Jesus accepted suffering as means of achieving God’s purpose which was the redemption of man.
iii. With His victory over Satan, Jesus assured His followers that with the word of God they too can overcome the wiles of the devil.
iv. The temptation signaled the preparation of Jesus for the ministry.
v. The way Jesus handled the temptation showed that Jesus is not a political or economic messiah.
Lessons To Learn
i. The fact that Jesus was tempted is an evidence that no man is above temptation. Temptation is normal and is not a sin but yielding to temptation is evil and a sin. As Christ overcame his temptation, every man should endeavour to overcome temptation.
ii. In the book of Zachariah 4:6, it is written: “it is not by might nor by power but by the spirit says the Lord. Christ was able to overcome his temptations because the Holy Spirit was with him. It is only the Holy Spirit that can help a person overcome temptations but the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in a person living in sin. Therefore, Christians should endeavour to live a holy and righteous life in order to attract the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life.
iii. Christians should try as much as possible not to be self-centered and overambitious. They should emulate Jesus Christ as he did not surrender himself to Satan’s offer which should have shown Jesus as a self-centered and overambitious person.
iv. Christ’s temptation was based on material needs, self-glorification and power but he overcame them all. Here on earth, all the temptation of man should has its root in these three things. Therefore like Christ, Christians should endeavour to overcome temptation when they are tempted.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
- Narrate the story of the temptation of Jesus according to Matthew.
- In what two ways were the temptation significant to Jesus in his ministry.
- What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ Temptation?