Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-2)
“It’s a tough act to follow.” No featured band wants to be upstaged by its opening act. The design of concert flow is supposed to move from the lesser to the greater, from a good performance to a great performance.
Today’s believers follow Jesus, not just by faith, but also in time. For us, Jesus and his saving ways are a part of the history we read in the Gospel accounts. Jesus came first, and here we are today following after him. This leads us to an important consideration with the temptation of Jesus: “Agree or disagree: Jesus is a tough act to follow.”
“What?!? Jesus was not tempted by Satan just to show us how it’s done or to upstage all those who fall into temptation.” Those who think of Jesus as the act we must follow grossly miss the point.
Sadly a lot of those who preach or share God’s Word with others about Jesus will speak about Jesus the Example and leave out the Substitute. All Christians are guilty of doing that from time to time. There’s certainly a place to instruct about how to face temptation like Jesus did in Matthew 4. There’s a place to for us to learn about how the devil tempts us from how Jesus was tempted.
But the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness primarily for us. This is gospel first, not example law. Christ for us, not Christ before us. His war was a strength-sapping struggle with Satan in our place. Our Incarnate Lord suffered the full pain and torment of temptation in a forty-day fight. God in his Word wants us to know clearly that his temptation was like ours in every way, except one – he was without sin.
Jesus left the wilderness sinless – for us. He left a conqueror and winner, with the victory flag of perfection still wrapped over his shoulders – for us.
Happy to know that is was Jesus who saved me from sin, just like you!
Pastor Jacob Hanneman