We are back into our Series on the Gospel of Mark this morning, and as it the punchy nature of this Gospel we move along at a brisk pace from event to event.
Lets read Mark 1:12-13 together
You may have asked or indeed heard of the question could Jesus’s have sinned. During this temptation described could Jesus have sinned by succumbing to temptation? It’s important to note at this point before we go any further that temptation itself is not a sin, to capitulate and act upon that temptation.
When it comes to temptation we give in so easily, fall so readily, prove ourselves so weak, and yet here comes God’s Man, Jesus Christ and He wants you and I to know that He is who He claims to be, the perfect Son of God, and so He is driven out into the wilderness to be tempted that we might see He was/is unbreakable. The theological term is “impeccable.” Jesus could not sin. And yet His temptation was as real as any you or I have ever experienced.
So lets examine Christ’s temptation this morning. Notice then firstly
Here this word “immediately” appears and we will see this regularly alongside the word “straightway” throughout this Gospel. The importance of this detail at this point should not be missed, for it is immediately after Christ’s Baptism that he faces this trial.
The mistake that many Christians make, especially new converts is that after the moments of Great spiritual victory such as Baptism, they think have it sorted, they have made it, but what often happens is they let there Guard down and in doing so leave themselves open to attack.
When Jesus was tempted He wasn’t driven by the Spirit to dens of iniquity; but the quiet isolation of a barren desert.
Because God knows man so well, and He knows that temptation comes not from that which is without, casinos, prostitution, debauchery, materialism, but from that which is within
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
But God knows it – and to prove that Jesus was the real deal he brings Him to this lonely place, that He might try the character of the inner man.
So we have the location of the temptation but what of...
Here we read that Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, now is that number significant or did it just happen to be 40 days? Well in scripture numbers are important a lot of the time, and they usually carry some deeper significance.
The Israelites wandered 40 years in the wilderness before entering the promised Land
During Moses' life he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.
Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 - 28), receiving God's laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins.
The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolise Judah's sins (Ezekiel 4:6).
So the number 40 symbolises a time of testing, trial or probation, and the Lord Jesus in his temptation was indeed being tested.
The Bible says,
Illustration: Lion’s are choice predators, they don’t go for the strongest, they pick off the weakest, those outside, or on the edges, of the group. A lion approaching any heard of animals will go for the easy target.
That’s just how our enemy works folks, that’s why being in Church is important, thats why be around Christian people is important, to isolate ourselves makes us a easier target for the enemy.
Here we find Jesus hungry and at his weakest physically, alone in the desert and he attacks.
And that is how the Devil operates – he comes maybe after prolonged marital problems, and he says “walk away… leave her/him”
He comes after a long period of financial problems and he says, “End it all – kill yourself, that way there will be no bills to pay.”
He comes after weeks of grief and he says, “God doesn’t care – if He cared He would never have allowed that loved one to die,”
He comes after a long illness and he says, “Listen, God isn’t hearing your prayers – prayer doesn’t work.”
You see the servant is not greater than his Master, and what we witness in the life of Jesus is the experience of all those who follow Him. We will face the attack of the enemy and we he will attack when we are at our weakest.
What then about the temptation itself, in what form did it come? well let’s then finally examine
Now we have already detailed that Christ’s temptation came after his Baptism, and we should remember the words from the heavenly father in response to this act of obedience is “ Thou art my beloved Son” and its is this testimony that is put to the test, as Satan always wants us to doubt the word of God.
This test is a rerun of what happened in the Garden, where Satan deceived with the words “Yea, hath God said” casting doubt upon Gods word. He attempts the same tactic with Christ.
In verse 4 of Matthew 4 we read , “If thou be the Son of God…” then in verse 6, “If thou be the Son of God…”
Do you see that? The Father says, “Thou art my beloved Son…” and Satan comes to cast doubt upon that, “If thou be the Son of God…” Casting doubt upon the testimony of God’s Word.
The Word of God tells us, “If you believe on Christ, if you trust His work on Calvary you will be saved,” but Satan comes and he says, “If you were saved you would not think that/ say that/ do that.” This is no onslaught on your character alone, this is a challenge to the testimony and promises of God.
He is really calling upon Him to satisfy a legitimate desire of the flesh in an illegitimate way.
Doesn’t Satan still play that card? How many Christians have laid aside their testimony for a moment of physical pleasure?
Here he says, “Jesus, show us what you can do – you are the Son of God, show off some of the privilege associated with your status. Show us you really trust God’s Word by putting it to the test.
How subtle this temptation is, because real trust doesn’t try the One it’s trusting.
In a sweeping moment Satan presented the Lord with a panoramic view of the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5) and he says, “Take a look Jesus, all this could be yours, if you would but bow down and worship me.”
Do you think the devil’s offer was sincere? Remember he was a liar from the beginning. Never do business with liars.
What’s more, the Lord Jesus knew that what worship is who you serve. He would not be made a sovereign by worshiping Satan, but a slave.
Look up Psalm 2:7-9
I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, And I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Did you notice that Jesus was commanded to ask His Father for the kingdoms of the world? Yet here Satan says, “ask me”.
And with this the enemy is sent packing the test that was failed by the first Adam, is passed with flying colours by the Last Adam, proving his Messianic credentials as truly God in the flesh, the perfect sinless lamb of God.
You know when we think of our temptations, we more often than not think of failure. Like Adam before, we are tempted and fall – sometimes all too easily. But Jesus never fell and Jesus never fails. And that is what makes Him such a wonderful Saviour. You see His victory is our victory. In Him we too are victorious, “more than conquerors,” according to Paul. And yet, how often do we feel more like failures than conquerors. Here my friends, is the secret to success in the Christian life. My life is hid with Christ in God. You and me, with all of our failings, all our weakness may live victoriously when we reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. When we identify with Him. His life. His death. His resurrection.
But that means denial of self. That means an acknowledgment of weakness. That signals our own inability. That means putting our lives to the cross. Being assured of our sonship, never doubting our standing in Christ, and walking according to His Word. How blessed we are, that we have an High Priest was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” What glorious hope he brings, and what gracious sympathy He offers, and what a marvellous victory He affords to those who trust Him and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.
I wonder this morning are you facing your own trial which is tempting you to doubt, to get angry, to sin?
I urger you to cling to the sword, the Bible and have the victory that you can have when you fight a fleshy temptation with the spiritual weapon and say the words with authority and boldness “No, Satan”