Jesus Withstood Temptation? Who Cares?!?

Why should you care about Jesus being tempted? I mean, it’s not like we didn’t know Jesus was going to be able to withstand the temptations of the Devil, Satan himself. It’s a no brainer – He’s God for crying out loud. God is stronger than any other force in the universe – he created it after all! Now I could try to convince you, “It’s because He wants to show you He went through trials and temptations just like you.” But even if I told you that, why should you still care? It doesn’t matter, because it’s not like he’s going through all the same stuff that you are right now – all of your suffering, all of your shame, your guilt, what others say about you and to your face, etc.

Jesus lived during a different time, He lived in a different place amongst a different culture. How can He possibly know what you’re going through? Afterall, again, Jesus isn’t a sinner, He’s God, and so He doesn’t think like you, He’s not weak like you, He isn’t going through what you are, and you’re not told that He ever did. Why should you care?

While everything I have said so far is true – that He knows what you’re going through – what’s truly the point? Because if it is just about Jesus having the ability to be empathetic about the things you go through, everything is meaningless. Be empathetic does nothing about anything. Your friends and your family may have gone through the same thing, maybe. There are probably people sitting around you who have probably gone through the same thing, endured the same stuff. It’s nice that they may be empathetic. But, if this Bible passage is simply to show you that Jesus merely went through the temptations that He did to make you feel better about someone else knowing what you went through, this incident, this Word is worthless.

So, why should you care about Jesus being tempted?? You should care because Jesus is telling you here today – in this small part revealed of Jesus’s life – that everything He is going through and will go through is all done for you in your place since you can’t do it yourself. Jesus isn’t only showing you He has simply gone through temptation, He’s showing you that despite your imperfections, your failings, that He came along to accomplish what you could not, do what you cannot.

In Jesus withstanding the temptation – which came straight from the mouth of the Devil himself, something we could never deal with – Christ is exhibiting the power He holds over Satan and his lies. This Word from Matthew today discloses the fact that all Jesus will do in His ministry, all that He will do on the cross and by rising from the dead, that He has conquered sin and its consequences – all for you. Jesus is flaunting that He has conquered Satan and death when you could not. Yes, in having the ability to withstand the temptations of the enemy, Jesus flaunts that all He did is done in your place – when you could not.

He did what He did as your substitute, as the sacrifice in your place to give you forgiveness for all of your sins. Jesus did what He did so that you would never have to endure Hell, with all its eternal death and suffering. Jesus exposes what the Devil wants, but also what God wants to give to you through His Son: eternal life, righteousness, salvation, forgiveness.

Jesus wants you to live a life boldly on this earth until He returns for you. He wants you to live boldly with a good conscience, with freedom, because He has cancelled all your sin – it’s no longer yours. He wants you to know that when you fall short, He still loves you despite it all and that He wants to always be your Father, and, therefore, for you to always be His child.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, know that even though you have to suffer and struggle through the mud and the muck of this world at this time, God has not forgotten you nor has He forsaken you. Instead He continues to strengthen you now with His Word of promise as first spoke to you as His Baptized child. He is your Father, your caretaker, and is always with you with what He speaks to you, with what He poured over your head, and what He continues to feed you with bread and wine, his body and blood given and shed FOR YOU. Yes, despite yourself, despite all that you are or what you think you are, despite what people say about you or what you say about yourself, despite what you have done or what others have done to you; He won what He won not for Himself, but for you.

Before I go, I want to share this with you. It’s from a sermon of one of the founding fathers of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, C.F.W. Walther. You may not know who he is, and it doesn’t matter. But what he said over 100 years ago still resonates with us today:

By sin, all people sold themselves to Satan, becoming servants and subjects of [the evil one’s] kingdom. Therefore, when Christ wanted to redeem men and save them, He came, as the true owner of all people’s souls, to conquer Satan, destroy his kingdom, to remove his plunder from him, to free us from his dark power, and to lead us through the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of eternal glory. Christ did this mainly by His bloody death of atonement on the cross for all the sins of the world [this includes your sins as well]. By this, the head of the snake was totally crushed and all people were completely redeemed. The battle with Satan described in our text was the beginning. It was the first engagement that had to be fought by the Prince of our salvation to trample Satan under His feet and to deal the first deadly wounds to him. It was the first defeat the hellish army had to experience to show them that the Stronger One had now come.[1]

[1] This writing can be found in the Treasury of Daily Prayer or the mobile app PrayNow as the writing for September 26. The quote is taken from daily selections of sermons by C.F.W. Walther, collected in the devotional book God Grant It, translated by Gerhard Grabenhofer, pp. 244-245 ©2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.