Lesson 9: His Temptations

Lesson 9: His Temptations

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With this lesson we consider the forty-day period immediately following the baptism of Jesus in which he experienced intense temptation. The event is recorded in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.


The Setting

  1. Following his baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Matt. 4:1). This is probably the Judean wilderness not far from the Jordan River where he had been baptized. Mark 1:12 says the Spirit “drove” him there.
  2. This period of temptation was by divine design. The reason(s) for these intense temptations are not stated here, but there’s little doubt that this was part of what would enable him to qualify and serve as our high priest (Heb. 4:14-16).

The Temptations

  1. “Turn these stones to bread” (Matt. 4:3-4; Luke 4:3-4).
    1. Jesus responds by quoting scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone…” (Deut. 8:3).
    2. The point here is that there is more to life than satisfying physical desires. Sometimes those desires must take a back seat to more pressing concerns – namely, trusting and obeying God (Mark 8:36-37; Luke 10:38-42; Ecc. 12:13).
  2. “Throw yourself down” (Matt. 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-12).
    1. Satan takes Jesus to the top of the temple and challenges him to jump off, saying in essence, “After all, the Bible says you won’t be hurt.” Satan quotes scripture to him (Psa. 91:11-12).
    2. Jesus responds by quoting additional scripture that focuses on Satan’s abuse of Psalm 91. “Don’t put God to the test” (Deut. 6:16).
    3. His point is this: even though Psalm 91 teaches that God cares for the faithful, it did not imply that one could deliberately place himself in peril to force God to rescue him. God will not be manipulated.
  3. “Fall down and worship me” (Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).
    1. Again, Jesus responds with scripture, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Deut. 6:13).
    2. His point is: regardless of the promised benefit, it would be sinful for Jesus to worship Satan or anyone else. Jesus will rule as God’s anointed (Acts 2:30-33), but not by a shortcut that circumvents the cross (Phil. 2:5-11).

The Epilogue

  1. At the end of the temptations, the devil left (for a while, Luke 4:13) and angels came and ministered to Jesus (Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13).
  2. What they specifically did is not revealed – possibly bringing him food, as they did with Elijah (1 Kings 19:5).


  1. We have the same adversary (1 Pet. 5:8; John 8:44; Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11). He is real, persistent, pervasive, shrewd, and arrogant (2 Cor. 11:3).
  2. We have the same temptations: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).
  3. We have the same game plan: resist (James 4:7; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:9).
  4. We have the same sword (Eph. 6:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Acts 20:32; Psa. 119:11).
  5. Satan can use our talents as opportunities for temptation, just like he tried to tempt Jesus to misuse his miraculous power.
  6. The soul needs nourishment just like the body does (Matt. 4:4). The word of God is both milk (1 Pet. 2:2) and meat (Heb. 5:12-14).
  7. Scripture must be handled correctly (2 Tim. 2:15). It can be quoted correctly but applied incorrectly (Matt. 4:6; 2 Pet. 3:16).