Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. What does this mean? – Part IV
In the third temptation: Luke 4: “9And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (ESV)
This, just as it occurred at the highest point on the temple in Jerusalem, is also the highest point in the temptation. This is “not” because Jesus would yield to the challenge any more than he did the others; or that he would yield in any way, but because it is the most perverted of the temptations, offered by Satan.
In the first temptation, Satan offered Jesus the Christ a surprisingly simple challenge, to make bread from rocks. This is very interesting because we would assume that Satan knew that this same Jesus was the very Son of God, whom as God had fed the Nation of Israel with Holy Manna (bread from heaven); the same God who had followed Israel (as the Spiritual Rock) providing for them all forty years through the wilderness; who in Galilee had made exquisite wine from water; the Christ who had created a proliferation of bread and fish from a tiny portion, feeding thousands; Jesus, who had referred to himself as “the Bread of Life” sent to feed the multitude the essential bread of life, “the Word of God”, needed for eternal life. This temptation, as does the others, show that Satan’s main objective was to command Jesus and cause Jesus to obey him. This is evident by the known facts, that Jesus (as the scriptures recount) had already accomplished a multitude of miracles even greater than making bread from rocks.
Secondly, Satan perversely offers to Jesus, the fading earthly glory of striving, struggling, warring kingdoms and the troubled dying nations in this passing world, in exchange for Jesus bowing down to him (Satan) and thereby forsaking his Holy, Holy, Holy righteous and loving Father, God. This is perverted because Jesus is the Incarnate Son of God, the Sun of Righteousness (rising with healing in his wings) vindicating his people Jews and Gentiles as the Prince of Peace, the Creator of, sustainer of and heir to all things including this world.
And then finally, Satan offers a challenge for Jesus to attempt to take his own life, by throwing himself off the temple, when Jesus had come to give his life as a ransom, a propitiation, as an atonement for the sins of the whole world. Imagine Satan’s foolish evil intent, Jesus Christ the Temple of God, taken to the top of the Temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed in an act of unbelief, just to demonstrate the saving power of God.
This final request is the most interesting juxtaposition of the three because Satan is employing a very deceitful ideology, he is now using God’s own written promise to his Son from the scriptures. He is challenging Jesus to do what he came into the world to do (offer his life as a sacrifice to the world); however Satan wanted Jesus to do it in front of him (Satan) and not publicly where it was ordained to be accomplished (and was) by the Plan of God, before the foundation of the world.
Satan is there at the Temple in Jerusalem setting himself up as if he were God (this was his original sin); when he said in his heart, “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; “I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14, NIV). Here, Satan was attempting to usurp God’s sole power, by designating his own position in heaven, when God alone appoints his created beings (including his angels) what they will do, their station and place in the hierarchy of their own kind. Just as he tried to usurp God’s power in the Garden of Eden, by using God’s words to deceive Eve.
From Genesis 3 “1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (ESV)
From Genesis 2 “15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’.” (ESV)
The devil here in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve, by first attempting to convolute God’s commandments to Adam and Eve. He misrepresents it initially saying, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Eve rightly divides the Word of God, recapitulating it and correcting Satan’s misquote. 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” However, Eve added the phrase “neither shall you touch it, lest you die”. God’s actual statement in Genesis 2 16-18 was, 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God never mentions “not” touching it. Seizing the opportunity with Eve’s overstatement, Satan states, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (ESV)
In this scenario, if Eve ever touches the fruit and doesn’t die, she could tend to believe that the fruit is ok and after inspecting it, thought that it also must be ok to eat. Eating some and not dying (right away), she then offered it to Adam, who eats fruit of the tree. Satan’s deceit prevails and sin enters into the world for mankind.
However, Satan’s deception concerning the scripture does not prevail in the temptations with Christ. He did not misquote the scripture but used the words to try to challenge and deceive Jesus by tempting him to presume on the Lord and call upon him to do something as a test, when it was not needed. Of course Jesus the Christ, sinless and righteous does not fall for the temptation, knowing full well all of the ploys of Satan. In Luke 4, 12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (ESV)
Here Jesus knowing that it was not the appointed time to lay down his life and that it was to be done, publicly and not as an act to prove something to Satan, the great deceiver.
Luke 4:13 “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (ESV) This passage is simply exegeted; Christ resisted the devil and he fled, we also are instructed to do the same. Satan left Jesus, however, he would return to tempt Christ at Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, just prior to Jesus going to the cross. This is where Luke recounts in the scriptures, “Jesus in great anguish of soul, prayed so deeply, that his sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood”. Jesus called out and inquired of God, if drinking from the cup of death (dying as a sacrifice for all), could pass away from him, let it be so; but if it was God’s will that he drink from the cup, he would. God reaffirmed the Plan which was from eternity, the chosen path for Jesus. Jesus consented to the will of the Father. It was there that Satan made his final attempt.
Satan’s presence was strong there (in that final temptation) as can be seen from several accounts.
1) Jesus states as John’s Gospel recounts, John 14, 30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father”. In this state Christ tells his disciples, that the devil (whom he called the ruler of this world) would be coming to tempt him, in an attempt to forestall the Eternal Plan of God, to save people from sin and death through Christ’s sacrifice of himself. But he states he will listen to and perform the command of God. Affirming that he would not be tempted as Eve was by the deceitfulness of Satan when he came so that the plan to save humanity would prevail.
2) In Luke 22:40 “And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’.” In this account, we know that the disciples fell asleep twice, while Jesus was under his greatest temptation. Jesus however, under the strain of Satan’s temptation, resisted in anguish (for he was in a human body subject to temptation) and though he gained no strength from the prayers of the disciples (for they were asleep), in Luke 22:42 Jesus defeats the devil by concluding that God’s will shall he do, “…Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” After which he is ministered to by Angels, as in the wilderness at the end of those earlier temptations by Satan; Luke 22:43 states, “And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” Returning to his disciples, finding them asleep again, he wakes them, encourages them to pray to avoid temptation, and then Satan appears (in the form of Judas), identifying him with a kiss and betraying him and turning him over to the high priest’s band of soldiers.
3) This is typical of Satan’s activity, when he cannot defeat Jesus, he attacked his disciples. In John 13: Jesus identified to John, which disciple would betray him, “27Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Jesus had already warned Peter, at the last supper in Luke 22 he stated, 31“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter was, sifted by Satan, but the Lord’s Prayer abounded and Peter, as we know, became the leader of the Apostle at Jesus ascension and was led by the power of the Holy Spirit which fell on them at Pentecost. Though true Christians belong to God and cannot be possessed by Satan, we yet can and do often fall under his extreme temptation, where he uses, as previously stated the ideologies, lies and philosophies of this present world to entrap the minds of all people.
The Holy Spirit assists believers, strengthening us against such attacks (but not always removing them). Prayer is our portion as Jesus directed his disciples to stay vigilant in prayer, in order to resist these worldly temptations of Satan.
Satan may have tried, but he was not able to tempt our Lord from completing his mission. He went to the cross; where he was stricken for our offences; where God poured out the full measure of his wrath on Jesus; where he suffered, stricken and seemingly abandoned by God for your sins and mine; where he bled and died on a cruel cross to pay for every sin; where he paid the final price. Where one man’s sin (Adam’s) created death for us all, Jesus’ own death, was the propitiation, sacrifice, and final oblation; and was enough to release those who trust in Christ, in his resurrection, in his commandments and teaching, in what he showed us of the Father and of the purpose of our lives; and for those who receive the Bless and Holy Spirit left for us at Christ’s ascension (to dwell in us), as a guarantor that the crushed body and shed blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us and given us a new status a new birth. We who share in the sufferings and the death of Jesus our Lord to the glory of God, no longer need to die; we no longer have to sacrifice. We have the Eternal Plan of God, activated; our justification, our sanctification, and our awaited glorification, for as many as would receive it, it is offered to the whole world.
Satan may be allowed to buffet us and persecutions may prevail, for this is his season to do so, as allowed by God. But he can never snatch us away from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, though he rages, “in this his appointed and his opportune time”.
Like Jesus, we are secured by a faith that is steadfast and sure and a living, good hope that no force in creation can forestall. For we know that we who trust in Christ, we who are saved by his blood, against us, no evil force can ultimately prevail. We are saved, and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit are able to present us faultless before the presence of God our Father in Glory, with exceeding joy. And we shall praise the Triune God our Savior for his glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and through eternity, which is God’s Great and Eternal Plan for us, His Creation. Amen
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