Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 15
CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY
In this lesson, we will study the temptations in Matthew Chapter 4, so get your Bible and search the Scriptures with us. Here Christ is about to begin His earthly ministry. As we have stressed in past lessons, it was to prove to the Nation of Israel (to which He had come), who He was. Now in His temptations, He’s not only going to prove to the Nation of Israel, but will embrace the entire scope of God’s dealing with the whole human race. We will see in the references that are coming that the very fact of His going through these temptations is a comfort to you and I today. And we will see that in just a moment.
“THEN was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
Unless you have been to the Middle East you don’t really understand what wilderness means. The wilderness of Judea is the most awful forbidding landscape of barren desert, but also rugged and mountainous. So the word “wilderness” is probably more than we Americans picture.
“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, `If (now that’s the way Satan likes to come, isn’t it? He likes to put conditions on things) thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.'”
Satan knows our weakest point at any point in time. Jesus has just come out of forty days of fasting and, naturally, in the physical realm, He’s hungry. What did Satan tempt Him with? Food. I’m sure all of you have experienced this: you may be driving down the road and realize that you’re a little hungry, but that appetite really isn’t wetted until you see a billboard of some delicious piece of food. Then, all of a sudden, those hunger juices start flowing and you just can’t get something to eat fast enough. Well, that is the physiological response when we are hungry. Satan tries to pull that same thing on Christ. He’s hungry so what does Satan mention? Bread. I don’t know about you, but fresh baked bread is hard to beat, so where does Satan attack Him? In that fleshly desire for something to eat. Remember, He’s God and He’s man, and He never lets one interfere with the other. Christ answers in verse 4:
“But he answered and said, `It is written (now what does that mean? Christ goes back to the Word. And it should be no different today for you and I. How are we going to maintain our guard against the evil one? Remember in Ephesians 5:26), “…that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” We have to stay in the Book, study it daily), Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”
And remember when you take God at His word, God calls that faith. That is why faith is not only the necessity of salvation but also for the Christian walk. Because how are you going to know how to walk if you don’t believe what God hath said? So it all comes down to taking God at His Word. So this is the point that Jesus is making. Now Satan tries a different ploy.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city (Jerusalem), and setteth him on a pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, And saith unto him, `If thou be the Son of God, cast thy self down: for it is written, (Satan know Scriptures), 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.'”
So he tells Christ, “Go ahead and jump” The Temple complex was usually filled with Jews coming and going to worship. So what was the temptation? “Get all of these people to see Who You really are. Jump off this high point of the Temple and before you strike the ground, the very angels of Heaven will bear you up and gently set you down.” My, wouldn’t that be the show of shows! And this was the temptation. Appealing to the eyes of those multitudes who would witness such a phenomenon.
“Jesus said unto him, `It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Satan backs off, but he comes right back).’ 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.”
Now you want to remember that Jerusalem and that area was pretty much the center of the world, especially in the time of Christ. The Roman Empire went west as far as Great Britain, and east as far as India, It involved North Africa and Egypt, and all of those areas. So from that high vantage point, they could envision all of the great empires that had ever existed, back through history, and even, I think, in the future. And Satan has the audacity to say:
“And saith unto him, `All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'”
I always like to make a point in asking this question, “Was it in Satan’s power to give those Kingdoms?” Yes! Absolutely. Many people don’t realize this. Because who is the god of this world since Adam fell? We are told in II Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” So you see old Satan is referred to as the god of this world here in this verse. So these Kingdoms are his tonight, but what Satan didn’t realize was The King is going to have them one day, anyway. Only it will be under totally different circumstances. Not by bowing down to Satan, but by utterly defeating him. Nevertheless, the temptation was valid.
“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.’ Then the devil leaveth him,…”
What does it say in James 4:7 “…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So this is a lesson for us as well. Now keep these three areas of temptation in your mind because we will be coming back to them. But first come with me to I Corinthians Chapter 15, which of course is from the pen of the Apostle Paul. We are going to see a Biblical truth, that, as far as I can tell, has never been revealed before. There is nothing like this in the Old Testament, and there is nothing like this in the Four Gospels, but here from the pen of Paul we come across what I call a basic doctrine.
I Corinthians 15:45,46
“And so it is written, `The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening (or life giving) spirit.'”
“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
I have stressed over the years that all through Scripture this is the process – first the natural, and then the spiritual. For example, Adam the natural and then the second Adam which is Christ. Cain the natural and then Abel the spiritual. Esau the natural and then Jacob the spiritual. Another one is King Saul the natural, and King David the spiritual. This goes all the way through Scripture. You can even take it into the end-time in the final seven years. First we have the Anti-christ then we have Christ. In our own experience we come on life’s scene as natural, and then when we experience salvation we become spiritual. It is just a fact of Scripture. And so Paul makes that point in verse 46. Let’s read it again:
I Corinthians 15:46,47
“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.”
“The first man is of the earth, earthy (God made him from the elements of the dust): the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
So as Adam is the federal head of the human race in Genesis, now Christ is the response to that Federal head, because Adam fell. That is the whole understanding that when Adam fell, there had to be some way of restoring that headship. And the second Adam, Who is Christ, was the One Who would restore. I can’t prove this from Scripture, but I like to think that Adam, before he sinned, had a body identical to Christ’s in His earthly appearance. Maybe you have never thought of that before. But you see Adam, before he sinned, was incorruptible. He could have lived forever if he had not fallen. Christ of course as we saw from the temptations did not fall. And as they laid His body in the tomb, did it begin to decay? No, because it was incorruptible. And it never started the decaying process. So always hold those two in contrast.
Adam, the Federal head of the human race, was given dominion over everything that God had created. It was his to rule and reign over. That is what the word `dominion’ meant. And yet Satan came on the scene, with one little temptation, and Adam with all of that power at his disposal; beautiful circumstances; nothing to be desired; it was all there for him; yet he fell.
Now in contrast, here comes Christ in His earthly ministry, not as the royal King as yet (although He is presenting Himself as the King), but He is coming more as a lowly servant, riding upon a foal of an ass. This is what confounded the Jews. They were looking for Someone to come riding on a white steed like a Roman General or Emperor. Jesus epitomized the servant when He washed the disciples’ feet. And that is why they couldn’t understand how this One, Who was the very Creator of the universe; The One Who had come to be the King of Kings not only of Israel, but of the whole planet could get down on His knees and wash the disciples’ feet. And now at His temptations He comes under wilderness circumstances. Whereas Adam had it all, Christ, as the Spiritual, comes under those adverse conditions but did not succumb as Adam did. All the areas of temptations are covered that you and I as believers face even in the twentieth century. In those three temptations Christ suffered the attacks of Satan that cover everything that Satan can throw at us. And let’s look at them here in this passage in I John Chapter 2:
I John 2:15
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
The Greek word for this word “world” here is Kosmos, from which we now get the word `Cosmos.’ Add a few letters on to it and you get Cosmopolitan. And what is a Cosmopolitan? The dictionary gives a very simple definition. A Cosmopolitan is a citizen of the world. Think about that. So what is the world as this text uses it? This whole world system: economic, politics, entertainment, pleasures, the good as well as the bad things. That is all wrapped up in this word, “world.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the good things, and have a nice home, or have a good living. But it’s like the Scripture says in I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil:…” Remember money isn’t, but the love of money is! Loving money is what makes people become corrupt in order to get it. It’s the same way with the world. Don’t love the world or it will grab you, and you can’t let go. This is what the things of the world try to do, and when that happens you will become part of the world and your Christian witness will be destroyed. Verse 16:
I John 2:16
“For all that is in the world (this world system), the lust of the flesh (what was Christ’s first temptation? Bread, because He was hungry. So He suffered the lust of the flesh), and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Now in applying this verse to the temptation of Christ, the first one we discussed is obvious. That was the lust of the flesh. He was hungry. The second one was the appeal to the eye because of that vast crowd that would witness His miraculous plunge from the pinnacle of the Temple. But the third one is when Satan says, “I’ll give you power over all these Kingdoms.” What did that appeal to? His pride. That what makes some politicians what they are – people who quest for power. It feeds the ego and pride. Applying this to Eve, what was the first part of Satan’s appeal to Eve? Look at the fruit, its good to eat. It was appealing to the eye. But the basis of the whole temptation was, “You can be like God!” And we call that the lie.
Now to be like God, what would that give her? Power and Pride. And it is the same way for you and I tonight. Let’s look at another Scripture, Hebrews Chapter 4. I’ve had people ask me after a class, “How in the world can the Scriptures say that Jesus tasted of every temptation that I’m faced with. He couldn’t have.” Remember, not each individual one, but in the categories He did. Because you can place every temptation that befalls you and I into these three same categories. It will always be the “lust of the flesh,” “lust of the eye,” or “pride of life.”
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (because He’s there!). For we have not an high priest(Christ) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (but rather we do have a High Priest Who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities); but was in all points tempted like as we are, ye without sin.” Let’s look at one more verse in I Corinthians Chapter 10. I hope you are seeing how all of this fits together.
I Corinthians 10:13
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man (you can’t say, `I’m in a unique position, no one has ever been faced with this before – Christ was!): but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation (Satan is going to hit us) also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”Now that’s a promise. If we look for the situation to get out of temptation you can, because God has made all the provisions to escape. It’s based on the fact of Christ own experience.