"And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. " Mark 1:12-13
The New Testament - A Brief Overview
Brief History of the Temptation of Jesus Scriptures and Topics Covered: Jesus Led by the Holy Spirit The Wilderness The Devil Jesus Fasts 40 Days and 40 Nights The First Temptation - DO NOT TRUST GOD The Second Temptation - PUT GOD TO THE TEST The Third Temptation - RULE THE WORLD AND BOW TO SATAN The Angels Came and Ministered to Him The Devil Departed Until an Opportune Time. Matthew 4:1-11 Mark 1:12-13 Luke 4:1-13
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Matthew 4:1
Jesus Led by the Holy Spirit
According to the Bible Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The Spirit of God chose to make the very first mission of the Messiah a contest between the king of this world and the real King. The devil could only use the things of this world, the things that all men are enslaved by, the enticing pleasures of sin, to offer Jesus. He was no match for Jesus because sin had no power over Him.
The Spirit of God chose the barren wilderness as the place where this battle would take place. A place of solitude, a place of contemplation, a place of no worldly comforts and where loneliness and hunger abounds. The cold nights and the heat of the day, with no friends except scorpions and snakes, and the wild beasts, this was the chosen place for the "temptations" of Jesus. Jesus was brought to the ultimate testing of his character, the ultimate testing of his identity, and the ultimate testing of his faithfulness to His Father.
When contemplating the reality of this whole situation it is important to realize what was really going on. The devil was king of the whole world system, and he was originally given this authority in the Garden of Eden. When sin originally entered the world men became sinners by nature. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, and once a person commits a sin they must enter into death. When Jesus came he was sinless, therefore death had no power over him. The devil is smart but not that smart, because had he known that he could not take a sinless man into death he would never have allowed Jesus to be murdered on the cross.
The "devil" is an interesting title, it means "slanderer". The word explains very clearly how Satan operates. He slanders and distorts man's understanding of God. Man CANNOT know God unless God reveals Himself by the Holy Spirit. Many times man's mind can believe certain things about God and form a belief based on our five senses and the world around us. This is where the devil enters in and slanders. The Bible is the revelation of God and without the Word of God man is in darkness. When God makes a promise it is like a sworn oath, the Bible says it is impossible for God to lie. The hard part is for man to have faith in God's promises, faith can only come by "hearing the Word of God". The devil uses the 5 senses and the world around us to keep us distracted from hearing the Word of God. This is because, as we will see, the Word of God renders the devil powerless, it is man's only weapon against his "lies" about God, and just as God spoke His Word and all things were created, so God speaks His Word and the devil must surrender.
Jesus Fasts 40 Days and 40 Nights
Jesus went into the wilderness and "ate nothing" for 40 days and then the "tempter came to Him" with the main 3 temptations. Luke tells us that Jesus was being tempted throughout the 40 days.
Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered." - Luke 4:2
There are a lot of speculations as to why the long 40 days of not eating, there is no doubt that it had something to do with Jesus being at His weakest moment when the "tempter" came to Him. The Bible says that Jesus was "tempted in all things" yet He was without sin. Satan began His attack.
The First Temptation - DO NOT TRUST GOD
"And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Matthew 4:3
Jesus became hungry and He desired bread and there was none. The temptation was to perform a miracle since He was the Son of God and provide bread for Himself, rather than trusting God and waiting for what God would bring Him. The Word of God clearly teaches us that God will provide all of our needs, and we are to trust Him and not worry or fear. Jesus knew this and answered the devil by quoting the Word of God.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." - Matthew 4:4
The Second Temptation - PUT GOD TO THE TEST
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." - Matthew 4:5-6
The next temptation was for Jesus to jump off the Pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, which was a very high portion of the Temple overlooking the Kidron Valley perhaps a 700 foot drop. He was to voluntarily expose Himself to a situation that would certainly destroy Him, unless God delivered Him. Jump from the Pinnacle and watch God's angels catch you. Jesus resisted again by quoting the Word of God.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." - Matthew 4:7
Painting of the Pinnacle of the Temple
Painted Illustration of the Pinnacle at Herod's Temple
The Third Temptation - RULE THE WORLD AND BOW TO SATAN
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine." - Luke 4:5-7
The next temptation the devil tempts Jesus with the power and the glory of world domination. Many powerful rulers sought to conquer and rule the world, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar. Jesus could have it all right now, without dying for man's sins, if he would worship the devil. It is interesting that Jesus did not dispute the fact that the devil was handed all the kingdoms of the world. Who handed them to the devil? The answer is man. God originally gave Adam and Eve dominion over the works of His hands, when Eve was enticed to sin, Adam chose to sin rather than be separated from the woman whom he loved, in essence he handed dominion to the devil, because of his love for the woman. Adam was a type of Christ who would die for His bride as well. Jesus responded to the devil again with the written Word of God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." - Luke 4:8
The Angels Came and Ministered to Him
The Bible says that after the temptations were over that the devil left and the angels came and ministered to Him. The angels are called "ministering spirits" in the Bible and God sends them to help every man, they cannot be seen unless God allows it.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. " - Matthew 4:11
The Devil Departed Until an Opportune Time
After the devil had ended his assault the Bible says that he departed for a season. The New King James translation says the devil "departed from Him until an opportune time. Satan's attacks are strategically planned, he looks for a moment of weakness and begins his assault. This time he met the Son of God who commanded him, "Get thee behind me Satan" and the devil had no choice but to submit to His authority.
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." - Luke 4:13