Jesus Temptations Were Not the Same As Mine

Have you ever read the accounts of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness and immediately made the connection to the temptations you face? In other words, you see Jesus’ battle against temptation as primarily a lesson on how you should fight temptation. I know I have.

But we shouldn’t be too quick to identify with Jesus. In the wilderness Jesus was doing something unique. Sinclair Ferguson writes:

But whatever exemplary lessons may be appropriately learned (and there are many), it must be emphasized that this event is…of a unique kind. It is deliberately set before as a recapitulation and a rerun of the Eden temptation.? (For the Fame of God’s Name, 176)

In other words, Jesus wasn’t primarily giving us lessons in how to overcome temptation. Jesus was conquering where Adam had failed. Adam succumbed to the temptations of Satan, bringing death into the world. Jesus overcame the temptation of Satan, bringing life into the world. Adam, the son of God, failed as a representative of the human race. Jesus, the son of God, succeeded.

I love these words of Sinclair Ferguson:

He [Jesus] appears as the divine champion, as it were, entering into enemy-occupied territory under the guidance of the Spirit as the director of spiritual intelligence. Miss this, and we miss the point of the narrative: it is a declaration of war, an attack on the one who claims to be the ruler of this world (Luke 4:6). Rather than overcome Jesus, Satan is comprehensively defeated, and in a sovereign manner dismissed by his conqueror with the words, “Away from me, Satan!” (Matt. 4:10, NIV) (pages 176-177)

Never Miss Any Goodness

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  • JamesBrett says:

    my feelings are torn concerning these ideas. the ideas, though, are good ones and worthy of thought and deliberation.

    i don’t in any way feel the chief purpose of Jesus’ overcoming these three temptations in the wilderness was to demonstrate for us how to do so. and i really like the angle of seeing the temptations (eden and here) with adam being a type of Christ. that’s excellent and needed.

    i suppose my reservations have more to do with the title than anything else — or the words “we shouldn’t be too quick to identify with Jesus.” while i don’t think it’s the primary purpose of the events, surely Jesus receiving the Spirit and then overcoming the temptations of satan through that Spirit is an example to us (as you have indeed noted).

    in the same way, i wouldn’t say Jesus’ baptism was merely, or primarily even, as an example to men. but i certainly believe we can take it as such.

    all the same, i appreciate this post a great deal; it’s given me much on which to think.

  • spurgeon says:

    Good Messianic point! But I agree that the title of this post is misleading. I think Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 make the point that the temptations we face daily are in fact temptations our High Priest faced, too. I think something of Christ’s sympathy will be lost if we make too hard a distinction between his temptations and our own. What a great High Priest we have!

  • spurgeon says:

    Here’s a different angle on this topic from J.I. Packer, Concise Theology: “The Gospels show Jesus experiencing human limitations (hunger, Matt. 4:2; weariness, John 4:6; ignorance of fact, Luke 8:45-47) and human pain (weeping at Lazarus’ grave, John 11:35, 38; agonizing in Gethsemane, Mark 14:32-42; cf. Luke 12:50; Hebrews 5:7-10; and suffering on the cross). Hebrews stresses that had he not thus experienced human pressures—weakness, temptation, pain—he would not be qualified to help us as we go through these things (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15-16; 5:2, 7-9). As it is, his human experience is such as to guarantee that in every moment of demand and pressure in our relationship and walk with God we may go to him, confident that in some sense he has been there before us and so is the helper we need.”

  • James says:

    There is another way in which Jesus' temptations were not like mine: His were immeasurably stronger. We don't experience temptation's full strength – we give in too soon. Jesus didn't give in; He experienced the fullest measure of temptation's power and withstood it to the very end. His active righteousness was not earned without trial!

  • Good counter point Tony.

    I do think however, that the evangelical culture is too quick to find itself in the gospels, rather than marveling at the glory of Christ. So yes, I agree, Christ's temptations were like mine in many ways. But they were also different in many ways as well.

  • Great point James. And, Christ was tempted by Satan himself. I don't think Satan bothers with me. I'm so weak he can just send a demon.

  • Thanks for looking at this through different lenses. Your right, the title is a bit misleading. I guess my point was that evangelical, western culture is too quick to find itself in the gospels rather than marveling at the glory of Christ. So yes, Christ is a wonderful example of how to fight temptation. But first and foremost, he's the savior.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • @darylhb says:

    This is such great revelation!! Wow. Thanks, Stephen.

  • Tim Ferrell says:

    Good word – the Second Adam Jesus indeed became our saviour. And, we are being transformed into His Image, the image of the second Adam. Thus through sanctification HE is 'growing us' to be more fully human, more fully the image bearers of our Father, whose very image in us was marred, twisted as a horrific consequence of the Fall.

    So, if Jesus is picking up where Adam failed then indeed you are implying that Jesus' temptation is our temptation for it was Adam's temptation. HE can be our saviour because of such (HEB 2).


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