And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3 ESV)
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (Matthew 4:6 ESV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:3, 6, 8, 9 ESV)
Just as Jesus had to be tempted, so must we. From His Father’s perspective, the temptation of the Son was a testing, a display of what was already in Him. It was a strengthening, a proving (Hebrews 2:17-18). These things further equipped Him for the greatest test of all … the cross.
From the devil’s perspective, the temptation of the Christ was aimed at getting Him to act independently of the Father, to act presumptuously … to force the Father to provide a rescue necessitated by a needless act outside of the will of God. Finally, Satan wanted Jesus to try to have it all, without suffering or death at Calvary.
These temptations were real. As God, He could not be tempted. As the man Christ Jesus, He most certainly was. He’d laid aside His rights and privileges in the incarnation. He would face this wilderness battle as a human being, and not as God. He would conquer as the last Adam. Therefore, His victory is an encouraging model for us. As He endured as a man trusting in God, so can we. Triumph is within our reach.
Had He faced the enemy as God, triumph would be out of our reach, completely unattainable.
The stakes were eternally high. Had Jesus failed, there could have been no redemptive death. Jesus’ death would have been like the death of a great prophet or rabbi, not a completely satisfactory and substitutionary death for our sins. The spotless Lamb would have been blemishes, an unacceptable sacrifice.
As a Christian, I face the same testings/temptations.
Will I operate as an independent being, apart from God’s plan and sufficiency?
Will I live presumptuously, and more or less force God to keep His grace covenant with me … all because I have assumed forgiveness prior to my sin?
Will I seek to obtain success and notoriety by surrendering who I truly am in Christ for foolish and self seeking means?
As a pastor, all of these testings/temptations are daily battles for me. I must remain wholly dependent upon the Lord. There is much riding on the daily choice to be filled with the Spirit. It’s an emergency situation. I MUST be filled with God’s Spirit.
When it comes to assisting Jesus in matters of the church, I must do it His way, and do it by Him. Any other way equals failure, no matter what the statistics may indicate.