Jesus in the Wilderness 2

May 10, 2019

by Barry Fike

    Is Jesus being tempted by an outside force when he’s carried out into the wilderness, or is this a force within?  Because of our immersion in western culture and theology our whole mentality, the teachings that we’ve had for so long, it’s difficult to make an adjustment in view of the fact that in the text there are so many troublesome passages that just to abrogate ha-satan to the yetzer ha rah is saying that that’s all that there is doesn’t answer all the questions.  Now the problem is “how do we interpret this if there is one God, there isn’t dualism present, we have the authority over all things spiritual?”  It isn’t a problem with the Hebrew mentality because it can be this and this.  Both are abstract concepts and Jews don’t ask the questions because they know there isn’t a personal ha-satan.  This is only a problem with the Western mind.  The ha-satan can comes in all kinds of forms and in all kinds of ways.  We understand this in the various ways that we daily are tempted.  In all of this we are responsible and that’s the problem.  We don’t want to be responsible, and it’d be easier to blame it on God or the devil. 

    In 4:3 is it tempter?  Yes, it’s the one who’s going to tempt him.  It’s the noun from the root nasa which means to test or to try. Notice that as he’s out in the desert is the temptation from within or without?  There is a temptation to turn away from the task that is before him.  The temptation comes in three different ways.  First, that the stones be turned into bread.  Every time temptation is overcome with what?  A simple word.  He doesn’t take any kind of authority over the devil and bind him and throw him into the bottomless pit or into the dry places.  The temptation is through the recollection, or calling to mind, the word of God.  It is written that man’s not going to live by bread but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3). Then it says, ha-satan takes him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple which was at the southwest corner of the temple compound.  In an archaeological excavation we found a stone that had been pushed down onto the floor during the destruction of the temple and it had an inscription on it that said, ‘To the place of trumpeting’.  That was the pinnacle of the temple.  If you are ben-alohim atah throw yourself off because it’s written that he’s going to give his messengers a charge over thee.  Again, the temptation is overcome with the written word, thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God (Ps 91). Who quotes from Ps 91?  Ha-satan.  Who is ha-satan?  Does he know the scriptures?  Yes.  The third one is the ha-satan tempts him and says if you’ll bow before me and worship me, I’ll give you all of these things.  This is a strange one because if there was a ha-satan, he didn’t have anything to give in the first place. 

    Basically, I find it comforting to know that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, yet he had no sin.  The temptation that he had was the same as that which we have every day.  It is within all of us to control our lusts and desires that work against God in the same way that Jesus did.   Knowing God’s word allows us to understand the tempter, the way we can be tempted, and the way to walk away from it.  May God’s spirit continue guiding you and leading you as we continue our study together.