Monday, June 7, 2021

The Temptations of Jesus (Hebrews 4:11-16)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

The author of Hebrews says that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are. How are we to understand this, and what does it mean for us?

Some have said that since Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sinful nature, and was God Himself, He could not be tempted. How Jesus could be tempted, being God, is a mystery, but it is no mystery how He could be tempted as a man. Adam, after all, did not have a sinful nature when Satan tempted him in the Garden. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness while He was starving for forty days.

But how can this be a temptation “like ours”? When we are tempted, we find a friend of sin within ourselves. We have a sinful nature that responds positively to external temptation. Jesus did not have this inner magnet toward sin.

Consider this though: Jesus did not come to deal just with our actual sins, grievous though they are. He came to deal with the root of our sin, with original sin. He came to undo the sinful work of Adam. Thus, He faced temptation at the same place as the root of our temptations. By remaining faithful at this place, He unravelled the complete tapestry of our sin.

In this way, He was tempted just as we are, tempted to renounce God’s way and go His own way. The greatest temptation Jesus faced was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when God told Him to go to the cross, and Jesus prayed that it might not be so. But when God told Him that there was no other way, Jesus obeyed. He made it through the wilderness and entered God’s rest.

These Jewish Christians were going through another wilderness experience. They were being tempted to go their own way. They faced martyrdom, and they were tempted to fall away. If they fell away, they would not enter God’s rest. But Jesus would help them if they trusted Him and His wisdom in wielding the knife of sacrifice as Great High Priest. Jesus knows what it is like, because He has been through it Himself. His victory is sure, and all we must do is faithfully endure.

Make sure you can explain how Jesus’ endurance of temptation makes Him able to help you in the midst of yours. Then apply this doctrine to your life. In whatever particular temptations you face, seek Jesus’ help and strength, not your own.