Temptation and testing come to us not because we are sinners, but because we are human
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:12–13)
I don’t like to talk about temptation. I’m, well, tempted to ignore it and not think about the reality of its effect on my soul. I could even boast about the mega-temptations that do not make it past my line of sight and make me feel pretty good about myself. If I did, I would be succumbing to the temptation of deception. Temptation is a reality of life for everyone. Even Jesus was tempted.
The road toward mission fulfillment for Jesus took him to the wilderness. For the Hebrews, the wilderness was branded as God’s proving ground.1 It was dry, dusty, difficult, and dangerous—as in “he was with the wild animals” dangerous. He was sent there by God, full of the Holy Spirit, to be tested. In this desolate place Satan set out to thwart the mission of Jesus and compel him to be disobedient to the will of the Father.2
This was no Survivor: Judean Wilderness Edition to see if Jesus could “outwit, outplay, outlast” Satan. Jesus was not tested to merely see if he could survive. It can be hard for us to comprehend that Jesus as God faced a genuine test. Scripture is clear that Jesus is both God and man; we can understand his humanness being tested because our humanness is tested every day. Temptation and testing come to us not because we are sinners, but because we are human. In this barren place Jesus came face to face with his humanity.
Satan’s goal was to get Jesus to deny his dependence on the Father and to act on his own.3 Is there room for a little true confession? I’m tempted to do that every single day! I am tempted to provide for myself, protect myself, and promote myself—and so was Jesus! He understands my temptations and I know his victory over temptation offers hope for me. I overcome temptation not only by following the example of Christ, but also by inviting the victorious Christ to live in me.
How can the areas of provision, protection, and promotion be areas of temptation? In what ways are you tempted to provide for, protect, and promote yourself?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, it is comforting to know you understand temptation and times of testing. I pray for wisdom to recognize temptations and for faith to trust your power to overcome them. In your mighty name, Amen.
1 David E. Garland, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 9.
2 R. T. France, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2002), 85.
3 See also Matthew 4:1–11 and Luke 4:1–13.