Why did Satan tempt Jesus?

I blogged on this topic a while ago in what has become my most-viewed post for the year to date. I have some extra insight to share coming from the following interviews Russell Moore has done on his book, Tempted and Tried.

The first one is 1h22m long, though you could download the audio and listen to it really fast.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The second is a manageable 18 and a half minutes:

(People using feed readers may have to click through to see the embedded videos)

Moore puts forward the thesis that in tempting Jesus, Satan wasn’t simply trying to rule over Jesus but he was also attempting to usurp God’s fatherhood.

This is the same tactic the devil had used with Adam and Eve in the garden and with Israel during their years of wilderness wanderings. Adam and Israel both failed their respective temptations. Jesus, in not falling to temptation, thus constitutes a new humanity and a new Israel.

Temptation #1: Turn these stones into bread

Jesus is genuinely hungry, and in effect, Satan says, “Your Father is holding something back from you.” This is the same thing he did with Eve and with Israel in the wilderness as they grumbled over food.

Satan is usurping the Father’s role as provider.

Temptation #2: Throw yourself down the pinnacle of the temple

Put differently: “Prove that God is really for you.”

Satan is usurping the Father’s role as protector.

Temptation #3: Fall down and worship me

Or: “I will give you your inheritance.”

Satan is usurping the Father’s role as provider of an inheritance.

With this temptation, Satan was willing to have a world in which Jesus was ruler. It would likely be a world free of sin, suffering and all other evil things. More importantly, also missing would be the cross.

Had Jesus accepted He would no longer be a sinless sacrificial offering, and Satan could hold everything hostage.

So what?

The essence of temptation is that God doesn’t have your best interests at heart. When facing temptation, we need to remember our identity in Christ.

Jesus knows Scripture, and knows where He fits in the story. We may know Bible verses, but unless we know our identity in Christ, we can’t overcome our temptations. Jesus isn’t just our example. Jesus, our head, was tempted in the desert. He identifies with us in being tempted and through His Spirit continues to work in and through us. Amen to that!

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