Did you know Jesus was subjected to the temptation of the spirit of Antichrist? That’s right! It happened when He was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. While there, He was subjected to the temptations of the world. And thank God, He resisted the temptation to become one of Satan’s despots. In resisting the temptation of the world, Jesus became the last Adam. Want to learn more? Keep reading.
The Spirit of Antichrist
Fourth in a Four-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
The Temptation of Jesus
Did you know Jesus Himself was subjected to the temptation of Satan to become a despot and to rule over the kingdom of men? Now before you shout “Blasphemy!” hear me out. The temptation happened immediately after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:13–17). Before Jesus began His ministry, He had to go through a time of testing. If you study the Bible, you will notice that all the men God used in an extraordinary way had all been tested and were proven faithful and obedient to God and His Word—men like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, to name a few. After being baptized, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Matt. 4:1–11)
Satan offered Jesus the opportunity to become ruler over all the kingdoms of the world, and He turned it down. Some read this portion of scripture with “glasses tainted with religious tradition” and they don’t see this as an actual temptation; they see it as something less human and more God-like. What they see is the Son of almighty God out in the wilderness having a time of fasting and prayer, and then all of a sudden, Satan shows up to harass Him. They picture Jesus as some sort of superhero facing down His arch enemy, Satan. He speaks the Word with authority, sending the arch villain fleeing as in terror.
That’s not the true picture. This was an actual temptation where Jesus’ faithfulness and obedience to God were being put to the test. And it wouldn’t have been a true test if He had not been tempted. For some, that boggles the mind: “You mean, Jesus was actually tempted to take up Satan’s offer?” As I said, it wouldn’t have been a true test if Jesus had not been truly tempted.
To better understand what Jesus went through, you have to understand the nature of satanic temptation. Satan’s temptation was not just the simple matter of making an offer to rule the world. If that’s all it was, then resisting Satan’s temptation would be a breeze. Satanic temptation is always accompanied by strong delusion, an overpowering assault against the mind.
Furthermore, Jesus’ temptation didn’t just happen after His 40-day fast. He was being tempted all during his 40 days in the wilderness. Mark’s Gospel says “he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan” (1:13). Luke’s Gospel says, “being tempted for forty days by the devil” (4:2).
For forty days, Jesus withstood the relentless temptation and the strong delusion that came against His mind. Without a doubt, He was speaking “It is written…” throughout the 40 days. When Satan was unsuccessful coming against His mind, he switched to a more direct, full-on frontal attack and appeared to Him in bodily form. But Jesus resisted this temptation as well; using the Word of God as His weapon, He defeated the “prince of the power of the air.” He was faithful and obedient to God and His Word. After that experience, Jesus began His ministry preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Lastly, as a side note of interest, the number forty has significance in the Bible in that it signifies a time of hardship and testing followed by a new beginning. Here are other examples of where the number 40 signifies a time of hardship and testing followed by a new beginning: the flood lasted forty days and nights; Moses lived in the desert for forty years and then saw the burning bush; the Israelites wandered the wilderness for forty years and then entered the Promised Land; Moses fasted both food and water for 40 days and nights on the mountain with God and afterward He received the ten commandments and the children of Israel entered into a new relationship with God; the Philistine giant, Goliath, challenged Israel’s army for forty days before David killed him; and lastly, after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared for forty days and nights before He ascended.
The Last Adam
Another very important aspect of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is His role as the “last Adam.” First Corinthians 15:45 says about Jesus, “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (NKJV). As the last Adam, Jesus had to succeed where the first Adam failed.
As the last Adam, Jesus had to undergo the same trial that the first Adam underwent. The only difference was that the first Adam was an innocent man, not knowing good and evil, subjected to the lies and strong delusion of Satan. He had a good and comfortable life in the garden. He failed. As a result, mankind lost his position in the earth, and it was up to the last Adam to get it back. Unlike Adam, Jesus was well aware of the evil entity known as Satan. And unlike Adam, the setting of Jesus’ testing was difficult. He was fasting so that meant he was hungry. He was alone and isolated in the wilderness so that meant He had no one to support Him. He was roughing it in the desert so that meant He was deprived of physical comforts. This test was difficult. It was not a formality; it was the real thing.
Satan used the same tactics on Jesus as he did with Adam and Eve. He questioned God’s word to Adam and Eve, “Hath God said?” He questioned God’s word to Jesus as well, saying, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” and “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” If Jesus had acted on these challenges, it would have been an act of doubt in God’s Word and not faith.
In the Garden, Satan’s proposition to Adam and Eve was to be like god, knowing good from evil. He offered Jesus a similar proposition of exaltation. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and made the offer, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” With this offer, he was trying to get Jesus to follow an easier path rather than the one God chose for Him. Following God means you deny walking according to your own ways and, instead, follow God’s voice and leading. Jesus had to deny His flesh and embrace God’s will. Praise God, the last Adam succeeded where the first Adam failed.
Through the first Adam’s disobedience to God, mankind lost dominion and authority on the earth. Through the last Adam’s obedience and faithfulness to God, mankind regained dominion and authority on the earth. Interestingly enough, both Adams were tested in gardens: the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane, thus bringing the dominion and authority of mankind full circle—ending and beginning, again, in the same place.
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