Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Temptation of Christ: Jesus is Tested

When Jesus was baptized by John, He was also anointed and filled by the Holy Spirit and He received His Father’s public affirmation as God’s beloved Son, pleasing to God.

In combining the three gospel accounts of what happens next, we find out that immediately after His baptism, full of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit literally impelled Jesus to go into the wilderness alone to fast and pray, and to be tested.

In scripture, fasting often preceded a great spiritual struggle. Elijah and Moses are both described in the Old Testament as fasting for 40 days and nights. As Jesus’ life paralleled the life of His people, all Israel was led by God into the wilderness to be tested for forty years before they entered the promised land.

The principle of fasting is simple. When you temporarily stop eating, many of the systems in your body are given a break from the hard work of digestion. The extra energy gives your body the chance to heal and restore itself, and burning stored calories gets rid of toxic substances stored in your body, which is symbolic of what happens to us spiritually. Biblical fasting always centers on spiritual purposes. We cover up what is inside our hearts with the pleasure of eating and other good experiences, but in fasting these things come to the surface.

There are side effects to fasting:
* fatigue,
* aches and pains,
* emotional duress,
* headaches,
* nausea,
* the symptoms of colds and flu,
which are all caused by the temporarily increased levels of toxins in your body which have also been inadvertently stored along with energy.

Jesus was likely experiencing all these side affects as He fasted and prayed. Jesus was slowly starving. At the end of the forty days, He was right on the brink of death by starvation.

During the entire time of His fasting and praying, Jesus endured relentless temptations from the devil.

How did He keep from sinning? The easy answer is to say, “Well, He’s God. The Bible says God can’t be tempted, so it was a slam dunk.”

But that’s not the answer.

The Greek word “peirazein,” which is translated “tempt” in English, has very different element in it’s meaning than to try to entice or persuade someone to do wrong. It means “test” far more than it means what you and I understand as “tempt.”

[Tomorrow: How Jesus withstood the test, when He was the absolute weakest, physically and emotionally, that a human being could be]

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  1. Thanks! Looking forward to the next post.
    Brings to mind a favorite Kramskoy painting of mine:

  2. Some of the deepest lessons I've learned have come from studying Jesus' temptation/test in the desert.

    And yes, what a powerful painting!! Thank you for sharing it, His look of suffering, yet the praying hands, that went deep for me.

    Grace and peace


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