Overcoming Temptation [Part 2]
Are you ready for some good news?
Because Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted, He understands the temptations you are facing and He’s here to help.
Today’s text: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18, ESV)
Jesus was tempted in the way that you are tempted.
It’s an extraordinary, mind-bending thought. To get the idea of a sinless God allowing Himself to feel the pangs of human temptation, you’d have to think of something that would never tempt you. In fact, you’d have to imagine a bizarre temptation far beyond the realm of possibility for you personally.
For example, I do not like steamed okra or raw oysters. Both are far too squishy. The thought of eating something so squishy and slimy is repulsive to me (sorry to the okra and oyster fans, just sayin’). I can’t imagine eating them. It’s virtually impossible for me to imagine being tempted to steal someone’s okra or oysters in order to eat them. Maybe if I was starving to death (and on the actual edge of death), I might be tempted to steal such slimy food. But, on the other hand, maybe not!
Here’s my point. To the extent that I don’t feel the least bit enticed to steal okra and oysters for personal consumption, all the more so, our perfectly holy God doesn’t feel the least attraction to anything unholy. God had to become human, fully and literally, in order to experience temptation.
And how was Jesus tempted? First, “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”” (Luke 4:3, ESV) After the initial temptation, “And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.” (Luke 4:5–6, ESV) After Jesus resisted earthly political kingship, the devil “… took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’” (Luke 4:9–10, ESV)
Phil Yancey has pointed out the common theme to Jesus’ temptation: to take a short cut to glory (see The Jesus I Never Knew, Chapter 4: “Showdown in the Desert”). The devil tempted Jesus to embrace His divinity but not His humanity. He wanted Jesus to abandon the mission to be human like you. If Jesus would have skipped past the human limitations that we experience, like hunger and gravity, He wouldn’t know us. But Jesus came to be fully identified with you. It means that He knows what you are going through. It means that, though He never sinned, He was tempted just like you. It means that Jesus is not up in Heaven with His arms crossed, shaking His head in disgust at the temptations you are facing – He is actively interceding for you. When you are tempted, call on Jesus. He suffered temptation in order to help you. And that’s the Gospel!
For more information please visit SharingtheLight.org.
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