Satan Tempts Jesus in the Wilderness Bible Study Guide

When Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, Christ resists with truth

Satan Tempts Jesus in the Wilderness
'Christ in the Wilderness', 1898, by Briton Riviere. Print Collector / Contributor / Getty Images

When Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, Christ reveals a pattern for believers to follow. The temptation to sin or disobey God is a basic experience all people encounter. Jesus demonstrated the proper response—to resist with the help of God and his Word, which is our most powerful weapon to refute the lies of the Devil. The Lord’s clash with Satan in the wilderness occurred for our sake. It was part of God’s work of salvation, to show that he was tempted “in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). 

Question for Reflection

Jesus defeated Satan's attacks with a powerful stab of God's sword—the Word of Truth. When you are tempted, do you battle it with the truth of the Bible or do you try to defeat it with your own inadequate willpower? We would do well to follow our Savior's example.

Scripture References

The account of the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness is recorded in Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13

Satan Tempts Jesus in the Wilderness Story Summary

After his baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil. Jesus fasted there 40 days.

Satan said, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." (Luke 4:3, ESV) Jesus replied with Scripture, telling Satan man does not live by bread alone.

Then Satan took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, saying they were all under the Devil's control. He promised Jesus to give them to him if Jesus would fall down and worship him.

Again Jesus quoted from the Bible: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." (Deuteronomy 6:13)

When Satan tempted Jesus a third time, he took him to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and dared him to throw himself down. The Devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, misusing the verses to imply that angels would protect Jesus.

Jesus came back with Deuteronomy 6:16: "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." (ESV)

Seeing that he could not defeat Jesus, Satan left him. Then angels came and ministered to the Lord.

Life Lessons and Themes

This was no small battle between Satan and Jesus. God's will and the devil's will met in a terrible clash. Satan tried to ruin God's plan of salvation by getting Jesus to sin, because a sinful Messiah could not be a worthy sacrifice for mankind. But Jesus was always able to see through the Devil's schemes, and he is much more powerful than Satan.

Satan tempts Jesus in three areas that correspond to temptations common to all of us today: the lust of the flesh (hunger of all types); the lust of the eyes or covetousness; and the pride of life, or lust for power.

Satan's first temptation is an attempt to get Jesus to doubt God’s divine care. By turning stones into bread, Jesus would be acting independently of his Father, using his own power to meet his needs. The Lord's response reveals that spiritual nourishment is more valuable than physical nourishment.

The second temptation is an attempt to get Jesus to test God’s promise of protection from physical harm. But Jesus refuses to test his Father’s faithfulness and protection. He trusts God completely and needs no such tests.

Satan’s third temptation gives Jesus the chance to grab hold of the kingdom and avoid the cross. The Lord’s response is one of no compromise. He would not worship false gods; he would stay totally loyal to God alone. 

Satan almost always presents sin as acceptable and desirable, but the remedy is the truth of God’s Word. Because Jesus was fully human, he is able to sympathize with our struggles and give us the exact help we need to resist temptation.

Points of Interest

  • Matthew and Luke list Satan's temptations in a different order. Mark merely summarizes the event. The Gospel of John does not mention it at all.
  • Jesus' 40 days of fasting reminds us of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and the 40-day fasts of Moses and Elijah.
  • The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness, or the place of temptation, but it was not God's Spirit that caused the temptation. Satan tempted Jesus. We cannot blame God for the temptations we face.
  • It was no coincidence that Satan tempted Jesus immediately after his baptism. Many new believers experience similar testing right after salvation and baptism.

Sources

  • "What was the meaning and purpose of Jesus' temptations?" https://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-temptations.html.
  • "The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel." The ESV Study Bible.