(1) And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, (2) Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. (3) And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
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Luke 4 contains Satan's temptation of Christ, and it is instructive to see what Jesus did in the face of evil. Just before this, Jesus had been highly complimented by the Father: "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). Jesus, then, must have been feeling confident, for the voice booming such praise out of heaven was a massive pat on the back. Then, Luke 4:1 relates that He was filled with the Holy Spirit; the power, the strength, of God was pumping through Him. It was at just this point—before He commenced His ministry—that Satan pounced.
We should not think that Satan tempted our Savior with merely three or four temptations, as recorded in this chapter, as well as in Matthew 4. The text says that He was "tempted for forty days," meaning that He was under constant attack for the full forty days, every day! This was an intense, prolonged test and more personal and powerful than we have ever experienced. The terrible evil He faced in the wilderness would likely have crushed us.
The passage implies that Satan left the worst temptation to the very end, when Jesus was seemingly at His weakest point. He had not eaten food or drunk water for forty days. But was He passive all that time? Did our Savior just sit or lie on the sand for those nearly six weeks, allowing the Devil's temptations to batter Him like one sandstorm after the next? Luke does not present Him like that. Jesus did not fast because He had nothing to eat in a barren land. Remember, He is the One who inspired the instructions about fasting in Isaiah 58, so He clearly knew the spiritual strength that fasting provides. At the end of the forty days, He may have been weak as a kitten physically, but spiritually, He was the powerful Son of God.
Perhaps the temptations advanced, not like one storm after another, but like an ever-strengthening tempest that culminated in a hurricane. What did Jesus do? Each successive onslaught was harder to resist. How did He face it? He bent all His will and strength on overcoming each temptation as it broke on Him. He pulled out every spiritual weapon to defeat each one.
Luke does not say that He pulled out His scroll of Deuteronomy and began instructing Satan on the finer points of God's way of life. Our Savior already had them deeply embedded in His mind. He was prepared—by long years of study and deep meditation on what He learned—to face Satan's attacks. We also know that, not only was He fasting when out in the wilderness, but as His everyday practice, He prayed regularly, almost constantly.
Here are four tools we must also use to rid evil from our lives: 1) Bible study, 2) meditation, 3) fasting, and 4) prayer. When Satan hit Him with temptation, Jesus did not need to do some emergency Bible study. Not only was He the Word of God in the flesh, but He also knew Scripture by heart. When Satan sent a temptation, Jesus quoted an opposing scripture verbatim. The right words—words that He had inspired as God of the Old Testament—came immediately to mind, and He hurled them at Satan like a razor-sharp weapon (Ephesians 6:17).
Christ never treated evil as if it did not exist. In addition, He knew the weakness of His own flesh. He is the only person who has ever totally resisted the pulls of the flesh, though He suffered them just as we do (Hebrews 2:14, 18; 4:15). However, He was strong in the Spirit of God and able to resist them. We see in this vignette from His life that, even so, it was no easy task for Him. We know it is certainly not easy for us, but if we want to be like Him, we must approach it just as He did.
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh