When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)
In Luke 4:1-13, we read that Jesus was tempted for forty days by the devil. Can you imagine what that was like for Jesus? Because he is fasting, he is tired and weak, and then he has this lying, cheating, demonic one pestering him for nearly six weeks.
The devil tempts Jesus with food. It seems reasonable to alleviate one’s hunger by making a stone bread sandwich, but Jesus doesn’t do it. The devil tempts Jesus with power and wealth, but again Jesus does not take Satan’s bait. Finally, the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. Think about those words for a moment (verse 9a). Jesus, who is truly God and truly man, allows himself, in his weakened state, to be placed into the hands of the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy (see John 10:10). Then Satan quotes Scripture to temp Jesus again. Again Jesus sees through the devil’s ploy and stays true to God’s calling on his life.
All of us are sorely tempted to step out of God’s calling on our lives, especially when we are lonely, grieving, hungry or suffering. “I could bend my morals a bit to get what I want or need and things will still be okay,” we think to ourselves. It is hard, especially when we suffer, to stay still and stay faithful to the one, true God.
The only solace that we have is that Jesus has suffered these same kinds of temptations. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was tempted by the devil to quit his world-saving mission, for example, when his own people opposed him, spoke against him and tried to kill him.
Perhaps that opportune time for the devil came in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was confronted with the reality of what he was about to suffer to pay the cost of forgiveness for all sins for all people for all time. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me,” Jesus prayed. It would have been easy for Jesus to step out of his Father’s plan for his life at this point, but then you and I would still be lost in our sin. Jesus quickly added the hardest words to pray, “…and yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). With that, the die was cast. Satan’s defeat was made complete when Jesus willingly allowed himself to be placed again in the devil’s hands and the very worst that the devil could conjure up was poured out on Jesus. Jesus suffered and died. But then, on the third day that followed, Jesus rose from the dead, proving that Satan’s power is broken.
When we suffer, it feels like the very worst is happening. But that is never true. The very worst would be if God abandoned us. And that will never happen because of Jesus. Jesus is always with us, especially in the midst of our suffering and temptations.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to be comforted by your and your loving presence at all times, but especially when we suffer. By your Spirit, help us to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Amen.