The Temptation of Jesus

"And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him" (Mark 1:13).

The forty-day testing of Jesus came immediately after the voice from heaven was heard proclaiming Him the Son of God. There He fasted for forty long days and nights, continually being urged by the devil to use His divine power to meet His own needs and exalt His own position.

Those who observe Lent (a word derived from the Old English word for "lengthen," referring to the lengthening days of spring) model their "fast" after this 40-day ordeal of Jesus. But the Lenten period (which begins on "Ash Wednesday," forty week days before Easter each year) hardly matches the suffering which He endured.

Furthermore, His testing did not end with the forty days. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). He was fully human, but never yielded to sin in any degree. He "did no sin" (I Peter 2:22), He "knew no sin" (II Corinthians 5:21), and "in Him is no sin" (I John 3:5).

But what if He had sinned? Then, of course, we would have no Savior and would be separated forever from God.

Could He have sinned? That question has long been debated, but the glorious truth is that He remained "without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19) throughout His life, and thus could finally "take away our sins" (I John 3:5) by His substitutionary death and resurrection.

In resisting temptation, Jesus acted only in His human strength, depending on the Father, just as we must do. At the same time, He was still God the Son, and "God cannot be tempted with evil" (James 1:13). He knew, and the Father knew, that He would never sin. The "testing" was really for our benefit so that all of us would also know that He is forever sinless and thus could be our perfect Savior. HMM

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