February 26, 2023
The Temptation of Jesus
“Mr. Joe, I’m Hungry!”
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, students from my youth groups and I participated in World Vision’s “30-Hour Famine” several times. The 30-Hour Famine is a teaching tool and fundraiser for needy children worldwide.
Our famine time was also a 30-hour lock-in. So, if you’ve ever done a lock-in with your students, multiply the time of planning, patience organization needed for this lock-in by 3.
Of course, the number one thing is that we did not eat for 30 hours. For my groups, we did not eat any solid food during that time. I always had water and juice available for them throughout the lock-in.
Before the lock-in, the students would get financial pledges from families, friends, and neighbors. All the funds raised would go to World Vision to support their ongoing cause of bringing food to needy people worldwide.
I always kept the students busy with activities, such as Bible studies and mission work; several students would inevitably come to me and say, “Mr. Joe, I’m hungry.” My answers varied, but I always encouraged them to push through the hunger, as what they were doing by fasting for 30 hours was a small example of people starving around the world. I’m sure we were all tempted to break the fast and sneak eat some food. I know that I was.
We finished our 30 hours with worship and breaking fast with a meal prepared by the students’ families.
I imagine anyone reading this might think, “Wow, 30 hours with no food; that’s a long time.” My answer to you would be, “Wow, 40 days with no food or drink; that is a long time.”
Who did that? I think you already know the answer. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. And if that wasn’t difficult enough, Satan tempted Him while He was in His food and water-deprived state.
In Matthew 4:1-11 we are given three specific times when the devil tempted Jesus in the desert.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” Matthew 4:1-11
In this reading, Jesus has been fasting for 40 days and nights. He had nothing to eat. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether He drank water at all. Medical experts say a person could live between one and two months without food but without food and water, only 5-7 days.
Jesus’ survival in the desert could be considered a miracle in and of itself. But the intriguing thing is that even in His weakened state, He was able to fend off the temptations of the devil.
Each time Jesus was tempted, He replied with scripture. (Re-read the passage) Finally, the devil left Him in disgust, anger, or perhaps waiting for another day. The Bible says,
“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
This means that as Jesus had a human body, He was given food, water, and wounds would have been dressed.
This passage is about God’s Son resisting temptation and false promises from the devil. Jesus had been sent by the Father with a purpose, and He would not be swayed from his desired conclusion.
One of my favorite Bible passages is 1 Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (In Greek, temptation or tempted can be used for the word tested or testing)
I don’t want to give you the “book” explanation for this verse. So instead, here is what I was taught it means.
Any temptation or testing we encounter is not new to the world or you. It may look slightly different or use other words, but it’s not new.
“God will not let us be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
God will not give us more than we can handle. We may feel overwhelmed, or things may seem impossible, but God always gives us the tools we need to bear up to temptation.
Finally, when we are tempted, God will always find a way for us to endure it. He may have us go around the temptation, over it, or face it head-on. He is always with us and will guide us to a way from, through, or away from temptation.
Whenever you are tempted, remember God’s words to Joshua:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9