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Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
– Luke 4:1-13 [NLT]
It’s all about the bass, all about the bass, all about the bass… So goes the song that touts the importance of the bass voice, and celebrates how everyone is just fine “from the bottom to the top.” It might be worth a brief escape (see the link below). And as good as that may sound, I’m sorry to say it’s not all about the bass, or the treble, alto, or tenor. It’s all about Jesus, and how he stands up to Satan, and what we can learn from this encounter.
Most important we can learn that Jesus did successfully stand up against Satan. He was not taken in. He was not deceived. He was resolute in honoring God, obeying the Father’s will and perfectly obeying God’s word and commands. This should say something in terms of what that would properly include, by the way. Jesus wasn’t much on the ceremonial law. In fact he came to fulfill the Law of God so that we are no longer under its condemning judgment. Check out Romans 6 for that incredible teaching!
Jesus is true at his own peril and inconvenience. He will not fail you because he did not fail God. He will be true because he is truth incarnate. And he showed it here in this encounter with Satan. You can rely on Jesus. He is a man of principle. He is faithful to the core. And because he was subjecting himself to these encounters with Satan as true man, we can draw another conclusion. He didn’t have to do this for himself. He reigned over all things and powers at the right hand of God. He didn’t need to prove to Satan he was in control. He had to do that for us. For you and for me.
We can also gain insights about life and living under Christ in his kingdom (to borrow Martin Luther’s phrase). In other words, this isn’t just theoretical. The insights we gain here are life-giving and life enriching. We’re better off when we take the lessons of Jesus to heart.
Like not thinking that we will ever be totally done with Satan’s tempting – until that Great Last Day. That day will come, but until then, we will face challenges and trials of various kinds. We won’t escape them. If Jesus had to deal with Satan, certainly we will too. We may even have to face him down more than once.
But remember this as well: Jesus won the battle. And we can too. We don’t have to strike out on the first pitch. We don’t have to give in to the temptation. We don’t have to assume we’ll never win. We can resist.
We do that by recognizing the three ways he comes at us: appetite, applause, and ambition. Satan will appeal to us almost always under one of those three cloaks. And when he does this, we can take the word of God that Jesus used as our weapon to defeat Satan’s schemes. We don’t have to fight with no weapons. We can also utilize the whole armor of God (cf. Ephesians 6). Keeping our head and hearts protected by what we think about and what we set our hearts on is part of that armor. Faith in Jesus’ promises and the goodness of God is yet another. We can hold all things together with the truth of God’s word and truth incarnate – Jesus himself. And we can be ready to go with the righteousness of Christ and the good news of God’s peace.
One more layer of all this bears mentioning. We don’t have to be always in a defensive posture. It’s not that we wait for Satan to sneak up on us. We’ve got a calling to live under Christ in his kingdom and serve him in righteousness and purity (resisting temptation). But when Satan does come our way, we can stand firm with the armor of God, and fight him just as Jesus did with God’s word.
Whether it’s praying the Psalms, reading and memorizing Scripture, or meditating on God’s word daily, Scripture is a powerful weapon against Satan and his schemes. We may fail. We may give in. That’s why Jesus’ victory is so precious. For he is our Savior. He forgives us when we fall, and empowers us to get back up and live to his glory and toward our eternal destiny – all secured in Jesus.