Tempted (Luke 4:1-13)
Reflections on Luke 4:1-13
Temptation can be a daunting fight, especially when we’re tired, angry, or grieved. For most of my life, I’ve battled with the same set of temptations. Sometimes I can resist while at other times I’m not as strong. The moments of victory feel incredible while the memory of defeat imparts sadness. Luke 4:1-13, however, offers a potent reminder when we’re engaged in the fight.
Our Tempted Savior
When Jesus walked in our skin, he fully experienced our lives, temptations included. In today’s reading, Luke gives us three comforting observations about Christ’s life.
“Full of the Holy Spirit”. Jesus relied fully on God to guide his steps. A relationship with the Father was the foundation for Christ’s every day.
“Led by the Spirit into the desert”. Not only did Jesus trust God to guide him, he kept that confidence when the destination seemed odd. The Holy Spirit led Christ into the desert. All our lives are a desert, so never forget that Christ is right there with you.
“Where for forty days he was tempted by the devil”. Christ trusted God to lead, maintained confidence when the destination was unusual, and didn’t give up when the journey met opposition. When you struggle with temptation or fear, don’t think that you’ve fallen out of God’s hand. Trust the one leading you, no matter where he leads.
While these statements are comforting, how can we overcome the tempter opposing us?
Back to Our Refuge
Beating temptation ultimately relies on the one in whom you are placing your trust. This refuge can be found through a love of Scripture, a trusting faith, and a growing relationship with God.
Scripture. Every time Satan lobbed temptation, Jesus responded with Scripture. His life’s rhythm found tempo in the pages of that holy book. Christ held those written words as the very words of God himself.
Faith. The devil, however, also knew Scripture intimately. Using the sacred text for his own twisted means, the accuser (the literal translation of “satan”) quoted Psalm 91:11-12 for his final temptation. He promised Jesus that God would rescue him from physical harm. The tempter failed to mention, however, verse 1, which reads: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This statement forms the condition upon which the remainder of the Psalm is predicated. Christ, knowing Scripture, took shelter in the Father. The one who rests in God has faith and trust in the one giving repose. Because of their confidence, they don’t need to test God to prove his promises.
Relationship. The confidence of the one sheltering in God arises from a relationship with the Lord. “Better is one day in your courts,” writes the Psalmist, “than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84:10). Saying “no” to temptation is a key step, for it keeps you from living in the devil’s paper palace. However, without a better “yes”, you are only embracing homelessness. When you’re trying to slumber in the back alleys of life, the warm hearth fires of temptation will start to look appealing. You need to find a better home. The Sons of Korah in Psalm 84 point to God’s house as our true residence. When we move in there, the allure of temptation will diminish.
Our Greater God
We will make mistakes and say “yes” when we should have said “no”. Our relationship with Christ, however, is built upon grace, a second chance (or third, or thirtieth). If one misstep severed us from God’s love, he wouldn’t be the sturdy refuge promised throughout Scripture (Psalm 46). Your sin may seem great, but our God is greater.
Footsteps—putting feet on your faith
1. Why is temptation hard to fight?
2. How was Christ tempted?
3. How does he help us overcome temptation?
Dear God, your ways seem strange at times. Your Spirit leads me to odd places and allows me to encounter opposition. Give me trust and courage in these moments. May your Word be the sword in my hand, faith my shield of protection, and a relationship with you the supporting cavalry at my flanks. In every battle, be my strength and victory. You know my struggle, for you yourself fought on the same field. I will never fight alone when I shelter in you. If today I fail, give me courage to get up again. If today I win, let my praise rise to you. In Christ I pray, amen.