Image: Austin Ban via Unsplash

The first recorded temptation involves Satan telling Jesus that if He is the Son of God, He should turn a stone into bread (Luke 4:3).

At first glance, this seems like a harmless temptation. Surely it’s not a bad thing to get food if you’re hungry? But when you look closer, there’s a lot more to the temptation than it initially lets on.

One of the things it does is it attempts to take Jesus’ reliance away from God.

In the first post on temptation, we outlined that a temptation has a sinister motive to reveal a bad quality about a person and lead them away from what is good (James 1:14 gives more insight). In other words, it is an attempt to get them to sin.

Satan is clever in his temptations in that he targets our areas of weakness. In this temptation he targeted Jesus’ humanly need for food.

Surely it’s not that big a thing to turn a stone to bread if you’re hungry and the Son of God?

But if Jesus had given in and did what Satan suggested, He would have denied that God provides for Him, which the Bible clearly says He does:

Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

matthew 6:31-33 nkjv

The other thing this temptation does is it attempts to take Jesus’ eyes off what God is doing.

Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2), and consequently overcome those temptations so that He can begin His ministry and be the spotless Lamb (1 Peter 1:19) without sin to die for our sins.

If Jesus had given in to this or any temptation, He would not have been able to atone for our sins. If He had turned the stone to bread and given in to His desire for food, while that desire is not a bad thing; it’s a part of being human, but if He had done so in that moment and listened to the devil, He would have denied that God meets His needs and He would have forfeited what God had for Him to do on this earth.

How crazy to think that giving in to such a small temptation could do all of that.

But there is another story in the Bible that tells of someone giving away so much because he was hungry (see Genesis 27). Esau gave away his inheritance as the firstborn to his younger brother Jacob for a meal because he was hungry.

A lifetime of blessing given away for a momentary satisfaction.

It’s a sobering thought.

One that makes me want to run all the more to God because I know that in my weakness I can make careless decisions and give in to temptations.

But I have a hope in Him, because His power is displayed all the more in my weakness. This does not mean I’m not vigilant for temptations and even more so when I know I am less strong, but it does mean I can go to Him and draw on His strength to sustain me when I am faced with a temptation I could easily give in to.

But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough – always available – regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9a amp

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