Led by the Spirit...Tempted of the Devil
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil" (Luke 4:1-2, KJV)
What greater contrast could Doctor Luke present to affirm the stately humanity of the Lord Jesus? ‘Led by the Spirit’–even the Son of God, the perfect man, deemed it necessary to be led by the Spirit. We understand why Scripture would tell us that we should be led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14, KJV), but why Him? Surely as God, He did not require the work of the Spirit in this way? We note that He was also 'full of the Holy Ghost' (4:1) and so while we might not understand it, we are told that it was so. Thus, we read He was 'led by the Spirit' to go into the wilderness.
But then the contrast: in the wilderness He was ‘tempted of the Devil.’ Having heard the reverberating declaration of the Father on the banks of the Jordan–‘Thou art my Son’–the Devil thought to test the Lord on exactly this point: ‘If thou be the Son of God’ (4:3, 9) He states with audacity known only to he. Three challenges are presented, each to which we note that our Saviour employs Scripture to thwart his intentions. The incarnate Word used the inspired word to prevent the purposes the Accuser.
But what does it mean, that He was tempted? Was he tempted in the same way as us? The answer is both yes and no, and it all comes down to how you define ‘tempt.’ Some assume that the word tempt includes the cognitive reaction to a temptation; that moment when we consider it, we muse upon it; we are momentarily assessing whether the enduring cost of sinning outweighs the temporary benefits. You’ll hear them say things like ‘it’s not wrong to think about it, it’s wrong to turn the thought into action.’
Consider this for a moment: is it plausible that when He was presented with ‘the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time’ (4:5, KJV) that the Lord even inwardly considered the possibility of accepting? It is impossible, for that would have shown a sinful susceptibility that would have made him no different from us. Rather, the Devil presented the opportunity, but there was nothing in Him upon which the temptation could take hold. The reason we weigh up the pros and cons; the reason the most spiritual of men and women flinch momentarily when the temptation is presented is that we have a sinful nature. We are linked to Adam biologically, and Scripture tells us that when he fell, he took the whole race with him. Thus there is an internal bias towards the sinful which we must always keep in check.
So Christ was tempted like us in that He was presented with the same temptation, but being the promised ‘seed of the woman’ and having taken nothing from Adam, there was nothing within Him to react to the sinful stimuli, and so He is unlike us.
What a Saviour. As much a man as me, but not such a man as me!