The First Temptation of Jesus

It's not the one you think either!

by Edward Langenback

© Nov 20, 2002

There is a popular trend that developed over the last few years that feature jewelry, T-shirts and other items that bear the logo "WWJD", which is short for "What Would Jesus Do?". It was intended to get people to stop and ask themselves that question before reacting to any situation. The idea is that by giving thought to what Jesus would do in a particular situation, we are better able to know what to do. By constantly asking ourselves "What Would Jesus Do?" and by studying the way He handled things in the Bible, we have a light that shows us the path we need to follow.

"Yeah, but Jesus didn't have to deal with the stuff that's coming at me!"

That couldn't be farther from the truth. It was not enough for Him just to be without sin. In order for Jesus to really qualify as our savior, He had to face and overcome all the same temptations, trials, and troubles that everyone else on Earth ever had to face.

(Heb 4:15 KJV) "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

The Contemporary English Version renders this verse:
(Heb 4:15 CEV) "Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin!"

If Jesus had not faced these things then His being without sin would be meaningless because He would not have overcome anything. This statement sounds extreme, yet if Jesus was sinless because He didn't have temptations and trials to conquer like everybody else, then He would not have been human. This is something that people often gloss over or just plain forget, Jesus was subjected to the same temptations we all have.

If you ask people when was the first time Jesus was tempted, they'll tell you the story of how He went in to the wilderness to fast for forty days after being baptized by John and satan appeared and started his "If Thou be the Son of God" routine, daring Him to make stones into bread. But while He was indeed tempted in this situation, it was not the first temptation He faced. What was the first you ask? Probably sometime while He was a child when His mother told Him to do something that He didn't want to do.

Do you think that's a shocking or surprising thought? That Jesus, who is God in the flesh, would ever have to face the idea of doing something that He did not want to do? This is something that humanity has had to face each and every day since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. We often make the dangerous mistake of forgetting that Jesus started out on Earth as a baby just like the rest of us. He had to grow up just like all of us do, and in that time, He would have been hit with all the same things that any growing child has to deal with. The temptations that Jesus was subjected to were as many and varied as the ones that each and every one of use has to deal with. If Jesus is to serve as our ultimate example of how to live life, then it is vital to remember that while He is God in the flesh, He is also human and as such has human needs, thoughts and feelings.

For example: There were times that Jesus didn't want to go to the next town because of the opposition and trouble that was waiting for Him. How much would you enjoy the idea of being arrested and then tried and convicted for something you didn't do? You can bet your last dollar that not only did The Son o f God know that the cross was coming in his future but that He REALLY wanted some other way of bringing salvation. He even asked God to let him off the hook and not do the cross. Have you ever been so serious about not wanting to do something that you sweat blood while praying about it? Jesus had a night like that in Gethsemane. You can be certain there was exasperation and frustration as no matter how simply He taught, most of the people there just didn't get the point. It was enough to leave anyone aggravated, annoyed and just plain tired.

So anytime you think that you're going through something that Jesus can't or wont understand, think again. He's been there and done that. You are not being asked to deal with anything new. In fact, when we are subjected to temptation and by God's grace find the strength and determination not to give in to it we have cause for rejoicing:

James 1:2-4 KJV, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

If this sounds like we should rejoice over being tempted and tested it's only because we should. Not that being tempted and tested is something to rejoice over, but that not giving into temptation and passing the test IS something to rejoice over. To get the full impact of these verses, take a look at the key words used here: 'trying' is rendered from the Greek dokimion {pronounced dok-im'-ee-on} [strongs number 1383] which means the proving, that by which something is tried or proved, a test. Any time you are tempted, no matter what that temptation is, your faith is being put to the test.

The word 'worketh' is translated from the Greek katergazomai {pronounced kat-er-gad'-zom-ahee} [strongs number 2716] and means to perform, accomplish, achieve, to do that from which something results. To put it plainly, overcoming temptation and trial develops Biblical patience, just as lifting a weight develops your muscle structure. The weight itself does not and cannot improve your muscle structure, the act of your exerting yourself to lift it does. The temptations and tests themselves do not improve your patience, overcoming them does.

Contrary to popular misconception, the word 'patience' in scripture does NOT mean 'to put up with, to tolerate, or to wait without complaining. It is translated from the Greek hupomone {pronounced hoop-om-on-ay'} [strongs number 5281] and means steadfastness, constancy, endurance. When the Bible talks about patience, it is talking about being consistent and unchanging, the ability and desire to stick with what we know is right despite temptations to do otherwise. The Good News Bible renders these verses very effectively:

James 1:3-4 GNB "for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. (4)Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Like all things with God, doing what He wants you to has rewards:

James 1:12, KJV "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."

The thing to remember is that while we are all tempted to do things we know are wrong (or to put it plainly: sin), it's not God trying to see if we'll give in, it's the adversary and his agents.

The Bible in Basic English puts it nicely:
(James 1:13-15 BBE) "Let no man say when he is tested, I am tested by God; for it is not possible for God to be tested by evil, and he himself puts no man to such a test: (14) But every man is tested when he is turned out of the right way by the attraction of his desires . (15)Then when its time comes, desire gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is of full growth, gives birth to death."

So not only is God not the source of your temptations, He has provided the means for you to overcome that temptation:

(1Co 10:13 CEV) "You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. ."

How do we escape from our temptations? By doing what God has been telling us all this time:

1 Peter 5:6-9, KJV "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."

To humble yourself is to accept God's will and not sit there giving Him excuses why you aren't doing what He said. Casting your care on Him is to acknowledge that He has already taken care of defeating the source of problems and deciding not to worry or be fearful because of anything. It is the certain knowledge that God is in charge and that His Will shall be done despite what the enemy would have us believe. It is often best summed up by this verse:

Psalms 46:10, KJV"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

If we are still, relaxed, confident that He is God, then we know without any shadow of a doubt that our victory in Jesus is certain. We remember that Jesus IS the way, the truth and the life that we need in order to overcome temptation.

Romans 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Saved not only from hell, but from sickness, poverty, temptation, trials, tribulation and anything that the enemy can throw at us.

Have you called on Him? Don't you think it's time you did?