Jesus’ baptism and temptation are the two essential prerequisites for him to begin his public ministry. He submitted to John the Baptist’s baptism, identifying with his people’s sin and foreshadowing his death for sinners (3:21–22). Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, who led him into the wilderness to endure the Devil’s temptation for forty days (4:1–2). God used the temptation to prepare his Son for ministry. After fasting for forty days, Jesus was hungry, and the Devil tried to seduce him into using his divine powers as God’s Son to make bread out of stone. Jesus resisted the Evil One with Holy Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone” (v. 4; citing Deut. 8:3), because obeying God is more important than satisfying one’s need for food. Next, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world at once and promised to give them to him if he would worship Satan.
Again Jesus repelled the Devil’s attack with Scripture: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Luke 4:8; citing Deut. 6:13). Under God, Satan is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), but the world was not his to give because all authority belongs God alone (Rom. 13:1–4). Satan thus showed himself to be a liar (John 8:44). Satan then tempted Jesus to prove that he was God’s Son by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple, even quoting Psalm 91:11–12 (out of context). Jesus did not yield to the Evil One’s temptation, once again countering with Scripture: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12; citing Deut. 6:16). Having failed to trap Jesus in a sin, the Devil left him (Luke 4:13). Jesus, God’s Son, surpassed Israel, God’s son (Ex. 4:22–23), who in the wilderness failed their tests. Obedient to the Holy Spirit, who empowered him, Jesus succeeded where Israel “rebelled and grieved” God’s “Holy Spirit” (Isa.63:10).
Although Jesus’ use of Scripture sets an example for his people, his role as divine-human Victor in God’s battle against the Devil is more significant. Theology for Life—Christians worldwide do spiritual battle with the “cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12). Let us draw close to our mighty Victor and rely on him!