The Book of Luke, The Third Temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ Ė Lesson 40
It is not hard to identify with the first two temptations of Jesus Christ by Satan.
The first temptation was in the area of hunger which we all are subject to.
Satan tried to tempt the Lord to satisfy His hunger by commanding a stone to become bread and therefore going against his fatherís will.
But Jesus Christ passed this test by calling on scriptural truth which says that man is not to live by the bread of this world, but by the bread that God provides.
This is a principle of scripture that we must live by.
The world, from the time we are born to the time we die, tells us that life is about getting food and clothing, that which satisfies the body.
But Jesus Christ tells us here that that is wrong, life comes by obedience to the word of God.
Any so called life apart from the word of God is not life but according to the scriptures is death.
The second temptation was in the area of power and control.
If the first temptation had to do with physical ďneedsĒ which make men move every day, the second had to do with the psychological ďneedĒ to exercise power and control over others.
Satan in this second temptation offered the prestige and power of ďall the kingdoms of the worldĒ if Jesus Christ would simply bow the knee and worship Satan.
Jesus Christ rejected this offer because manís worship and service can only be directed toward God.
Again Jesus answers from the spiritual realm as he always will.
Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
God is a jealous God and will not share worship with another.
No man can serve two masters.
Since the worship of Satan would have required serving him, Jesus Christ would have become his servant had He yielded to this temptation.
Men and women of this world find it easy to identify with the first two temptations, for there is always an appetite for bread and an appetite for power and control.
But this third temptation is not one that Satan will present to the average man.
It is a temptation that is given to Jesus Christ because of who he is, the Son of God.
The temptation to throw oneself from a tall building is not a popular temptation.
The natural man repels that kind of an offer.
So how is it that Satan can suppose jumping from the pinnacle of the temple be a tempting offer to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Letís read our passage again, verses 9-13,
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
Note the supposition of Satan as he poses this temptation to Christ.
He prefaces his challenge to Christ by saying, If thou be the Son of God.
So I think that this offer of Satan could only have been used in the testing of the Son of God.
It is not a test that would be offered to you or me, but only used to test or tempt the Son of God.
Satanís temptation of Jesus Christ could be thought of as an admission that Jesus Christ was deity.
In Satanís mind this temptation could only have an appeal to the Son of God for to any of us it would only result in suicide.
But as in the other two temptations it was Satanís will that Jesus Christ sin and this temptation also follows Satanís purpose.
So how would casting himself off of the pinnacle of the temple be sin?
Satan is a great salesmen.
He chooses the right location for a particular sales pitch.
He chose the wilderness, a place of hunger, when he tempted Christ to turn the stone to bread,
he chose the top of a very high mountain, a place of a grand view, to tempt Christ with all the kingdoms of the earth
and now he chooses a pinnacle on the temple in Jerusalem, a place high and lifted up, to make his last temptation more appealing.
To sell something you have to be in the right place at the right time.
Jesus has just been pronounced the Son of God, the ďKing of Israel,Ē by the Father, at the time of His baptism.
He was ready to begin his ministry and the kingdom of God was at hand.
To Satan this was a now or never time.
He would have to have a full court press if he was to save his kingdom.
Jerusalem is the place where the king would reign and it is also the capital of the kingdom.
Jerusalem, then as it does now, means a great deal to an Israelite.
Jerusalem was the place an Isralite came to meet with God in the temple.
Jesus Christ proclaimed great feeling for the city of Jerusalem. when he said in:
Luke 13:34-35: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! 35Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And it was in Jerusalem that many waited for the coming of the Messiah and the setting up of His kingdom, people like Simeon and Anna that we met in chapter two.
It was in Jerusalem that many would recognize the Messiah when He revealed Himself to men.
It was thought that when the Messiah was revealed it would be in Jerusalem, and the temple would be the one place in the city where He would most likely appear.
The Old Testament prophets had spoken several times of His appearance in the temple:
Malachi 3:1, Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
So it was here in Jerusalem and on a very high place of the temple that Satanís final proposition was made to the Lord Jesus.
Luke 4:9, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
In this third temptation of Christ Satan quotes scripture to try to strengthen his position.
Beware of salesmen quoting scripture for it is probably to strengthen his position with you and sell his goods.
So Satan quotes Psalm 91:11,12 as he gives his challenge to Jesus Christ:
Psalm 91:11,12, For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
This psalm speaks of the safety and security of the one who takes refuge in God.
That is the kind of trust that we find in the Old Testament. Refuge in God!
The tradition of the Jews of that day was that the Messiah would show himself by leaping from the pinnacle of the temple and that Godís angels would bear him up in accordance with Psalm 91.
And it appears that Satan is using this interpretation as he offers this temptation to leap from the temple to Christ.
In the minds of the Jews the rescue by angels would be convincing proof of Godís protection and care of His Son, Israelís Messiah.
But God was not about to neglect faith in favor of sight.
Satan had misapplied the passage in attempting to get Jesus Christ to tempt God, his father.
For we are not to tempt God in acting on our behalf, we are to simply trust his word because it is his word.
We are not to test God to see if his word is true, we are to believe Godís word because it is Godís word.
God said it and that settles it.
Psalm 91 speaks of the safety of every saint who takes refuge in God, who looks to God for protection.
The safety which is spoken of in Psalm 91 is Godís protection from the wrath to come for those who dwell in the secret place of the most High.
The first verse of Psalm 91 establishes who it applies to.
Psalm 91:1, He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
It is not a psalm about the Messiah and Satan misused it for his own benefit.
The Psalm is not a promise of protection for Israelís Messiah.
It is the promise of protection from Godís wrath for all who take refuge in God.
It is the salvation from judgment which the believer is assured of.
Because of the suffering of the Messiah it is the salvation which provides for the protection of the saint.
It was because Christ bore the wrath of God on the cross of Calvary that men who trust in God, who find refuge in God, do not need to experience that wrath.
So Satan misused Psalm 91 and applied it to the Messiah.
But Jesus Christ understood it and was not impressed by Satanís sales pitch for him to jump from the temple.
He knew Satanís motives for tempting him in this manner.
Satan desired to keep Jesus Christ from being the Messiah.
For if Jesus Christ had ďput God to the test,Ē He would have sinned, and not been fit to serve as a Savior.
Satan was seeking to get Jesus Christ to doubt the goodness and power of God.
He was trying to get him to doubt his word and to require a demonstration to verify his word.
The only reason for putting God to the test is doubt and unbelief.
For Jesus to have jumped would have meant that He doubted God and therefore found it necessary to test Godís love and care.
Godís word says that He will never leave you nor forsake you.
That settles that. You do not need a test to prove if God will do so for Godís word is enough.
Testing Godís word is unbelief.
It is the same as when your child tests your word.
It is because he or she does not believe you.
Our Lordís responses to the first two temptations indicate his firm faith in his Father.
It was a faith which was willing to wait for God to bring about His will, rather than to independently bring it about by His own actions.
In Godís work you can make things happen on your own or wait on Godís good timing.
Satan sought to turn faith into a faith which forced God to act to prove his word instead of simply believing his word.
Satan was also still interested in killing the Messiah.
In Genesis chapter 3, God had told Satan that the Messiah (the seed of the woman) would crush his head (3:15).
He, on the other hand, would ďbruise the heelĒ of the seed.
From that time in Genesis Satan sought to prevent the seed from being born, or to kill the seed once he was born.
He opposed Israel and tried to destroy this nation because he knew through whom the seed would come in the Old Testament period.
Once the birth of Messiah has taken place, Satan used his servant Herod in an attempt to kill the child.
In the end, it was Satanís entering into Judas which brought about the scheme which resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus.
After his many attempts at killing the Messiah he was successful or so he thought when Christ was crucified on the cross.
Satan did not realize that ďkilling MessiahĒ was Godís way of redemption for sinners and provided for the total defeat of the Devil.
God allowed Satan to have his way but in Godís good time and for Godís good purpose of redemption.
But in the case of this temptation Satan saw the killing of Messiah as the solution to the threat of Messiah and his kingdom.
Satan has a host of angels and it could be that he saw his angels interfering with Godís angels in the rescue of Jesus Christ?
Satanís angelís had interfered with the heavenly messenger in Daniel chapter 10, so it seems they have some power to hinder the work of God.
By convincing Jesus to jump, Satan hoped to prevent a rescue by Godís angels by calling in his own angels.
Therefore if Jesus Christ did cast himself from the temple he might not be saved and Satanís desire to kill the Messiah would be successful.
All this was based on a false view of Psalm 91.
Satan sought to keep the Messiah from being able to fulfill His mission, which was to destroy the evil one and to establish His kingdom on the earth.
Jesus Christ did not argue with Satan for his false use of the word of God.
But he disarmed Satan with the word of God and ended this forty day session with the devil.
Luke 4:12, And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
This can be said in this way, You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.
The point is, that Godís faithfulness should not be put to the test, but is rather a given.
There is no question about faithfulness as far as God is concerned.
Testing the word of God shows unbelief.
Testing or the need for proof of Godís love and care shows unbelief.
The Old Testament stories about Israel are full of examples of unbelief in Godís love and care and Satan was in all of these temptations promoting that same unbelief.
Israel was to be Godís son and as a son was to be tested and proved.
Deut. 8:2-5, And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. 4Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. 5Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.
Israel failed in becoming a son and God brought forth his son in Jesus Christ and tested him and proved him and then exalted him to a position of power and preeminence, but in Godís own time.
Satan is here trying to change the order of things and do things in his own time.
As the ďSon of God,Ē Jesus Christ was to endure physical want, waiting for God to satisfy His needs.
Satan challenged the Lord Jesus to meet the need Himself, by commanding a stone to become bread.
The ďson of GodĒ was to be the instrument through which the whole world would worship God, yet Satan sought to entice the Lord Jesus to worship him, in order to possess a kingdom which was in rebellion against God.
Finally, in this third test, the ďSon of GodĒ was to wait for the day when God Himself enthroned Him as the king.
But Satan made effort to persuade the Savior to leap from the pinnacle of the temple, and begin a kingdom independent of the Father.
Satan is proposing that Jesus Christ create a need which forces God to intervene, based upon a text which was falsely believed to teach that God would not allow any evil to happen to His Messiah.
There are times when one may be in danger due to the leading of God or to oneís obedience to the will of God.
For example, Danielís three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were in grave danger (death in the fiery furnace) because they refused to bow in worship of the golden image.
Even though the danger was, as it were, beyond their control, they refused to place God in a position where He had to act a certain way:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego answered and said to the king,
Dan. 3:16-18, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
God is not our errand boy, waiting in the heavens to do our bidding.
We are to serve him and do his bidding, not the other way around.
We are to simply obey his word and believe his word and are never to be so faithless that we demand proof of his faithfulness after he has already spoken in his word.