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Wilderness Temptation of Jesus Christ


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#1 Curt

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 12:59 PM

Matthew 4 and Luke 4 both record the devil or Satan "coming to" Jesus to tempt him. Was his temptation from without himself,or was it from within his own being in it's origination? Why do Luke and Matthew state the temptation in this way? If this is hyperbole, why? Is this usage a part of Greek language expression?
My feeling has been that "every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust." (James 1:14) Wouldn't that include Jesus?

Thank you for any input on this subject.

#2 nsr

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:13 PM

I think it was purely internal. The external temptations came later.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#3 Mark Taunton

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:38 PM

I agree with Nsr. The reason why it was written that way I see as two-fold:

  • To highlight the starkness of the challenge of carnal human desire and will against the will of God, and that Jesus clearly perceived this within himself (whereas we so often don't). To him, the will to sin that came from within, from his flesh, was so distinct in his mind that it was almost like a separate entity, speaking in his head: he could as it were engage with it in argument. Paul saw this conflict similarly, though of course in sorrow that, unlike Christ, he so often found himself failing, succumbing to its wiles:


For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
(Rom 7:22-25)

  • To make a deliberate link with certain typological elements in earlier scriptures, anticipating both Jesus' overcoming temptations in the wilderness and his ultimate victory over sin, in his death. Two in particular are very clear and strong:
  • On the day of atonement (see Lev 16), the "scapegoat" (literally, "goat of going-away") that bore Israel's sins on its head was a strong-willed animal that a "fit man" (literally, "man of the time") would have to physically wrestle with as he took it into the wilderness and sent it away. Jesus, as the true man reflecting that anti-type, the one sent in the fullness of time by God his father, fulfils this pattern in detail, in the wilderness. At the critical moment, he said "go away, Satan!", and the devil left him.
  • The confrontation between David and Goliath (1 Sam 17). One man, alone out of Israel, dispenses with the armour the flesh prefers, having armed himself with the shield of faith, crosses through the water, and goes on in urgency to fight this chief enemy, the devil who had stood up against Israel for 40 days, slandering and defying the living God. He strikes it right in the seat of ungodly human will, the mind represented by Goliath's forehead, and destroys it. Thus the serpent is bruised in the head by the seed of the woman.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 08 July 2011 - 01:54 PM.


#4 Richie

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 01:40 PM

Yes I think it was internal. I do not think some religious authority wandering into the desert to talk to Jesus would have been very tempting. But I also believe there is a very real external aspect, and that's why the term devil and Satan are used. That external aspect is the Jewish world Jesus grew up in, and their expectations of Messiah - that he would be a miracle worker and conquer the Roman oppressor. Those aspirations came into the wilderness with Jesus and he dealt with the temptation to conform to the world in the wilderness, readying himself for the greater temptations to come where the same pressure was evident in such places as John 6:15.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#5 Mark Taunton

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:12 PM

By the way, Curt, I see you're new to this forum. Welcome! :birthday:

#6 Chrlsp

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:22 PM

Internal?.....what is an internal temptation?


Surely all men are tempted when drawn by their own lust....but something or someone must entice their lust.

Being led into the wilderness does not necessarily mean he was led into the desert alone.....after all, did not John come preaching in the wilderness.

"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Mar 1:2-4)

The events to take place in the wilderness are recorded by Isaiah.

"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:" (Isa 40:3-4)

"Every valley shall be exalted"????....'and every mountain and hill made low'????.........these refer to people....to exalt the valley and make low the mountains is a straighening or equaling of all men (of the wilderness) so as none are any better than any other (all must repent).

"And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts;" (Mar 1:13)

The wild beast may refer to unbelieving Jews (chief priest, elders, jewish leaders)who came to tempt Jesus. They (Jewish leaders) were the mountains and hills and wild beast of the wilderness.

Edited by Chrlsp, 08 July 2011 - 04:34 PM.


#7 Mark Taunton

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:46 PM

Internal?.....what is an internal temptation?


Surely all men are tempted when drawn by their own lust....but something or someone must entice their lust.

Firstly, that's not how I read James 1 - James doesn't speak of "enticing their lust", but says a man is "drawn away and enticed" by his own lust. He doesn't say the lust itself has to be enticed (whatever that might mean).

Jesus was hungry after 40 days without food - we are told that explicitly. The temptation was to turn stones into bread, using the power of God for his own physical need, rather than to bring glory to God. The source of the lust (desire) is entirely plain - it was (in the most literal/physical sense) within him. Where does the need for an external agent (such as one of the Jewish religious leaders) come in?

#8 Richie

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 04:56 PM

Internal?.....what is an internal temptation?

In the context of the wilderness temptations that Jesus was alone with his thoughts. I.e. there wasn't a literal person there tempting him.

Surely all men are tempted when drawn by their own lust....but something or someone must entice their lust.

Of course there must also be an object of the temptation, be it a thing or a concept like power.

Being led into the wilderness does not necessarily mean he was led into the desert alone.....after all, did not John come preaching in the wilderness.

So you think John was the tempter? Not sure what you're trying to say here.

The wild beast may refer to unbelieving Jews (chief priest, elders, jewish leaders)who came to tempt Jesus. They (Jewish leaders) were the mountains and hills and wild beast of the wilderness.

I think the wild beasts were wild beasts and that's why Psalm 91 came to mind.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#9 nsr

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:57 PM

I think wild beasts are mentioned to emphasise that there were no other human beings around, and he was in fact alone.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#10 Curt

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 11:22 PM

I have spoken to different people that feel an entity (the devil) outside of Christ's person was necessary to tempt him. Some feel Jesus was a man like you and I are, others view him as God or a god, and still others as a man with a nature different than the rest of humanity(they view him as Adam before he sinned). So by saying an internal temptation I just mean that the temptation originated in his own mind and that it was NOT necessary for there to be another being (the devil) to bring the temptations. Curt

Internal?.....what is an internal temptation?


Surely all men are tempted when drawn by their own lust....but something or someone must entice their lust.

Being led into the wilderness does not necessarily mean he was led into the desert alone.....after all, did not John come preaching in the wilderness.

"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Mar 1:2-4)

The events to take place in the wilderness are recorded by Isaiah.

"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
"Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:" (Isa 40:3-4)

"Every valley shall be exalted"????....'and every mountain and hill made low'????.........these refer to people....to exalt the valley and make low the mountains is a straighening or equaling of all men (of the wilderness) so as none are any better than any other (all must repent).

"And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts;" (Mar 1:13)

The wild beast may refer to unbelieving Jews (chief priest, elders, jewish leaders)who came to tempt Jesus. They (Jewish leaders) were the mountains and hills and wild beast of the wilderness.



#11 Curt

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Posted 08 July 2011 - 11:34 PM

Aspects of the wilderness temptation must be viewed as non-literal. There is no mountain on earth high enough that all the kingdoms of the world could be viewed from it. This must be either metaphorical or in the mind of Jesus Christ. The same could be said of being set on a pinnacle of the temple. Either he was tempted in the wilderness or not. For this to be an actual event then he would have been taken to Jerusalem. It had to be in his mind. These are just some further thoughts. Thanks for your input thus far!

#12 Richie

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 01:19 AM

Good points with which I concur, Curt.
"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life." - Terry Pratchett.

#13 Chrlsp

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:09 AM

Aspects of the wilderness temptation must be viewed as non-literal. There is no mountain on earth high enough that all the kingdoms of the world could be viewed from it. This must be either metaphorical or in the mind of Jesus Christ. The same could be said of being set on a pinnacle of the temple. Either he was tempted in the wilderness or not. For this to be an actual event then he would have been taken to Jerusalem. It had to be in his mind. These are just some further thoughts. Thanks for your input thus far!



I have a question for you. How could Moses see all the land from Mount Nebo at the top of Pisgah?

"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither." (Deu 34:1-4)

There need not be a Mountain high enough to see all the kingdoms of the world because the Lord can cause thee to see them. Just as He caused Moses to see all the land without stepping a foot into it.


We are told that it was the devil which took Jesus to these places, however, we are also told that it was the Spirit which led Jesus into the wilderness. This was a trial for Christ and the devil could have no power at all unless it were given him from above.

Edited by Chrlsp, 09 July 2011 - 02:18 AM.


#14 Mark Taunton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 12:00 PM

How could Moses see all the land from Mount Nebo at the top of Pisgah?

"And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither." (Deu 34:1-4)

There need not be a Mountain high enough to see all the kingdoms of the world because the Lord can cause thee to see them. Just as He caused Moses to see all the land without stepping a foot into it.

That's all quite true. The problem comes in the next part:

We are told that it was the devil which took Jesus to these places, however, we are also told that it was the Spirit which led Jesus into the wilderness. This was a trial for Christ and the devil could have no power at all unless it were given him from above.

You quote what Jesus said to Pilate, that he could have no power over Jesus unless it were given him from above, and apply it to the devil in Jesus' temptations, suggesting that the devil there is just a human ruler like Pilate.

But Pilate's authority over Jesus was entirely within normal human limits - there was nothing miraculous in Pilate's power, it was merely political. Pilate didn't even rule over the whole of the promised land, so even he could not say, even of just that part of the world, that "it is delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will I give it". As Roman governor, in any case, he was hardly authorized to hand over pieces of land to other men to take as their own.

Even Herod, as a king, offered at most half of his kingdom to the daughter of Herodias, and had no reason at all to offer it all to Jesus.

And certainly none of the Jews in any kind of authority could plausibly make any such claim - they were subjugated under the power of the Romans (which they resented); they could not hand over even the promised land to Jesus, far less "all the kingdoms of the world"!

Only the emperor in Rome might think to make such a claim as the devil makes in the temptation. But even Caesar, while he could in principle have shown Jesus his own kingdom, ruling over many other kingdoms, had no power to make Jesus see all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. No ruler, indeed no human being on earth, could ever do that.

But Jesus did have all power, in himself. The holy spirit had just been given to him, after his baptism by John. God explicitly approved of his beloved son, and empowered him by his spirit. In relation to this, moreover, John said of Jesus:

He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. (John 2:30-35)


Jesus, by God's gift to him of the holy spirit, was uniquely able to say to himself: "All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it". Such a thought had its roots and apparent justification in those words of John. The temptation came from within, and could come only from within: no-one else could actually make such a claim and have Jesus believe it. The temptation was (as with stones & bread) to use God's limitless spirit-power for his own benefit, taking authority over the nations then and there, rather than first subjecting himself to his father's will. But he refused; he knew that he must first pour out his soul unto death, not simply taking advantage of what God had given him, but giving himself to God in obedience as the perfect offering, before he could, and would, rightly take all power and authority and reign over the world.

There is another reason to understand that this was an internal temptation, that is, Jesus seeing these possibilities in his own mind, thinking them in his own thoughts, but resisting the devil (the urge to sin that arose in his own flesh) and refusing to act on them. And it links directly to the account of his temptations.

When Jesus was tempted, he answered in each case from scripture. But what scriptures did he use? In fact, all his answers are found from a small section in Deuteronomy, in chapters 6 through 8 (expanded in one case with a related passage elsewhere). But why? What is the point of that?

It is because in that context, Moses tells Israel about their own experience of temptation in the wilderness. God had called Israel "my son, my firstborn" (Exo 4:22). Jesus of course had now been declared by God from heaven to be just that, the true son, fulfilling the pattern of that phrase in its earlier figurative application to Israel. Then, after God's son had passed through the waters, he came into the wilderness to experience temptations for 40 years. Moses speaks of this directly in Deu 8:1-6, in words that apply so powerfully and directly to Jesus, he was certain to have been turning them over repeatedly in his mind, during his own time of 40 days of testing. Thus, when the tempter said "turn these stones into bread", the answer was right there in his heart, ready in response to the challenge arising from his own flesh, out of his own urgent need for food, to go against God's word by doing something he had the power to do, but he knew would be wrong.

The temptation to take authority over the kingdoms of the world, because the world had been given to him, in fact links strongly into a later section in Deuteronomy 8. Here it is in the KJV. It describes a very real possibility for Israel:

11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.


Moses warns Israel what they were at risk of doing, once they entered the promised land and experienced God's blessings on them in it. Jesus, being made of flesh and blood just like his brethren, was also at risk of doing the very same thing, having received that extraordinary blessing of God's spirit, empowering him to do things far beyond natural human capability. And the words of the devil in the temptation reflect exactly that wrong pattern of thinking that Moses addressed: ceasing to remember the one who had given to his son such tremendous privilege and blessings ("all that thou hast is multiplied"), and starting to think instead of himself as the possessor of those things, to do with them as he chose. Thus the false thought: "my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth" corresponds strongly and directly to "all this power I will give thee, and the glory of them, for that is delivered unto me". What is crucially missing in both cases is acknowledgement by the son of his debt and responsibility to the father, the original giver of that power and wealth, which is God. God did indeed intend to do good to his son, but it would "at the latter end", not immediately.

Jesus was open, through the weakness of the flesh, to these very same urges and wrong modes of thinking that Israel were. He himself told us that evil thoughts, and the evil actions that can follow them when they are not resisted, come from within, out of man's heart. He was tempted in all points like we are, and Israel were, from exactly that same source - "thou say in thine heart ...". That was what was happening when "the devil said unto him ..." - it was the natural desire of his own flesh, speaking in his heart. But because he had first hidden God's word in his heart, it was there at the critical moment, empowering him to know and understand the error of those fleshly thoughts that came into his mind, and overcome them. He was able to do that because God in his word had anticipated his need, and provided for it, and he himself had chosen to conform himself, not to the world, but to God, and to his father's purpose for him that is expressed in his word. He had already learned the lesson of Israel's failure, and understood what he must do, in order to succeed.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. (Deu 8:2,5)

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes (Psa 119:10-12).

For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 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. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:12-15)

Scripture explains how Jesus, having fed himself constantly for 30 years, building himself upon that living word, used it as it was intended to be used, to resist the devil within himself, remembering the Lord his God, such that in the inner struggles against the will of his own flesh and blood body, the word had its power, and strengthened him, ultimately to completely overcome sin and gain the victory, even in his death. Of course that victory over the devil, over sin and then over death itself, was not only for himself, but also for those others God would give him, that is, all who follow him, as we seek to do, in faith.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 09 July 2011 - 12:28 PM.


#15 Curt

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:18 PM

Great points, Mark! Israel failed in their temptation with food, and with water. They also failed in tempting the LORD their God.

God's son Adam failed in his temptation.
God's son Israel failed in in his temptation.
God's son Jesus was victorious over his temptation.

Israel is called God's son in various places. Du 14:1 "You are the children of the LORD your God ..." Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him and called my son out of Egypt. Exodus 4:22 "Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn."

#16 Curt

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:29 PM

I don't know what the elevation of Mt Nebo was. It was on the east side of Jordan. Moses would have seen Canaan from there. I certainly don't know how much of it. Matthew 4 says the devil showed him "all the kingdoms of the world". Obviously no mountain was high enough to even see all the kingdoms of the Roman empire, much less to see the nations on the opposite side of our planet.

#17 Chrlsp

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 04:43 PM

Mark

You say that no man could make a claim to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world because no man ruled all the world. However, a man does not need to be ruler of the world to think that he is or might be. After all, this person told Jesus to fall down and worship him suggesting that this man had placed himself as God. Quite arrogant don't you think? He would certainly not be the first man to place himself as God....nor the last. We have seen men in history who place themselves as God, and we see them still today....and there will be more.

Edited by Chrlsp, 09 July 2011 - 04:44 PM.


#18 Mark Taunton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:17 PM

Mark

You say that no man could make a claim to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world because no man ruled all the world. However, a man does not need to be ruler of the world to think that he is or might be. After all, this person told Jesus to fall down and worship him suggesting that this man had placed himself as God. Quite arrogant don't you think? He would certainly not be the first man to place himself as God....nor the last. We have seen men in history who place themselves as God, and we see them still today....and there will be more.

My point is that no existing human ruler, with the one exception of Caesar, could possibly say such a thing to Jesus and have Jesus believe it as real and meaningful, so it would constitute a genuine temptation for him.

And even if we allow the devil to be Caesar here:
  • we find no explanation why the emperor of Rome would temporarily disappear, turning up alone in the wilderness, to make that extraordinary offer to this man, an unknown Jew from despised Galilee; nor is there any hint of extra-biblical/historical evidence for such an occurrence.
  • whatever was his point in suggesting Jesus make stones into bread and throw himself from the temple? Why would Jesus' hunger, or his natural desire to prove God's promised protection from danger towards him, be of any concern to the most powerful man in the world?
  • Caesar was not in the least likely to have an intimate knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures, so as to pose Jesus a challenge by quoting Psalm 91 (which indeed is applicable to the Messiah) but in an inappropriate context;
  • not even the mighty Caesar could show Jesus his great empire in a moment of time. Only God, by his holy spirit acting on a man can do such things, as you rightly pointed out from Moses' experience.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 09 July 2011 - 05:20 PM.


#19 Mark Taunton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:30 PM

I don't know what the elevation of Mt Nebo was. It was on the east side of Jordan. Moses would have seen Canaan from there. I certainly don't know how much of it. Matthew 4 says the devil showed him "all the kingdoms of the world". Obviously no mountain was high enough to even see all the kingdoms of the Roman empire, much less to see the nations on the opposite side of our planet.

Mt Nebo (or at least, the mountain which is believed to be Mt Nebo), is not enormously high. From there you can certainly see the Judean desert extending to the south, Jerusalem on its hills more or less to the west, and Jericho and the southern end of the Jordan valley to the north-west. But that's about it. The main area of the land of Israel, down to the shore of the Mediterranean on the west, is not simply not visible, being obscured from view by the hills of Judea.

(By the way, I say that from personal experience. I was blessed to be able to stand on that site and look towards Israel, on a trip to Jordan last year. I've tried to dig out a picture my wife took, but can't find it now.)

But in any case, I don't think anyone here disagrees that Moses' seeing all the land required God to operate in a miraculous way to show it to him. He did not see it by purely natural means.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 09 July 2011 - 05:33 PM.
I had my compass points confused.


#20 Chrlsp

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 05:50 PM

Luke tells us: "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." ["he departed from him until a more opportune time." Net Bible(Luke 4:13)]

The devil, during Jesus' temptations is quoted as saying, "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." ... "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:".

Now, since this devil departed from Christ for a more opportune time, can we find another time when the devil says again to Jesus, "if thou be the Son of God..."?

Yes. when Jesus was being crucified....

"they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God." (Mat 27:39-43).

Edited by Chrlsp, 09 July 2011 - 05:56 PM.


#21 Jeremy

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 08:58 PM

(By the way, I say that from personal experience. I was blessed to be able to stand on that site and look towards Israel, on a trip to Jordan last year.

You kept that quiet!

Good thread, by the way. Like olden days. :birthday:
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

#22 Mark Taunton

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 09:45 PM

Chrisp,

Sorry the following is lengthy, but there is a substantial issue here and I'd like to spell out the reasons why I say what I do.

The scriptures you quote are clear, and I certainly can't dispute the facts of the text. Both the devil of Jesus' temptations, and the people who mocked him at his crucifixion, used the same words, "if you are the son of God" to raise a challenge to him, tempting him to disobey God's will.

But a question for you. How does that prove that the devil that spoke to him in his temptations is in fact (as I think you are suggesting) simply a Jewish ruler, one who was also present at his crucifixion to take up his same purpose once again? Does that follow from this fact of the gospel account, automatically?

I've already pointed out reasons why the devil in the wilderness can't be an ordinary human ruler: not even Caesar (though he seemed at first at least potentially a candidate) and certainly not a ruler of the Jews. Beside that, there are some obvious differences between the two contexts you mention, that make problems for your reading:

  • The words "devil" and "tempter" are used about the source of Jesus' wilderness temptations. But neither word appears anywhere in the record of his crucifixion.
  • The devil in the wilderness is consistently spoken of in the singular, throughout the records. However, it was not an individual who said the words "if you are the son of God" to Jesus as he hung on the cross, but multiple people, described using plural grammar.
  • The people who challenged Jesus in that same way are not identified as rulers, but simply as "those who passed by". The rulers (the chief priests, scribes and elders) are spoken of as also mocking Jesus, but in a separate group.
  • The Jewish rulers in their own taunting of Jesus say something which, though similar (in starting with "if"), does not reflect the devil's language in the wilderness in the direct way the first group's words do.
It does not follow, just because the same words are used to introduce the tempting propositions in both situations, that it is the same person who says them both. And, as I've shown above, there are a number of significant differences between the two contexts, which cast doubt on your proposal.

However, that is not to dismiss entirely the link between the two contexts - it is real, and I accept it as an intended feature of the record. But what does it tell us?

Firstly, it shows us that the source of the challenge Jesus faced, whether in a private situation in the wilderness, or as he was set forth in his humiliation and affliction before many onlookers, was the same in this sense: it came out the heart of man, doubting the reality and truth of the word of God, and putting forward an idea contrary to his expressed will. In this we will of course agree, that there is no room for any kind of supernatural wicked being, the Devil of popular imagination. In each case, the innate waywardness and selfishness of the human heart was responsible for conceiving the wrong thinking that Jesus had to resist, and - to both our eternal benefit and the glory of God - did resist.

But there is in addition a scriptural structure that we need to consider, which I believe explains this connection in its detail.

When God spoke to the serpent in the garden, concerning his own purpose ultimately to resolve the evil state of things that Adam and Eve's sin had produced, he mentions both the serpent itself, and also the seed of the serpent, as being involved, along with the woman and her seed. He was setting enmity in place, both between it and the woman, and between its seed and her seed. The serpent of course is symbolic of the power of sin in mankind, that is, the devil, in its contradiction of God's word, leading men and women into sin and hence death. But what is the serpent's seed?

Jesus shows us what that is, in his interactions with the Jews in his day:

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
As he spake these words, many believed on him.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
(John 8:28-47)


Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
(Matt 23:29-33)

Jesus identified the disbelieving Jews, even though they considered themselves as Abraham's seed (which they were, but only in the physical sense) as both the children of the devil (the original serpent), i.e. themselves "serpents", and also as a "generation of vipers". John too described them in those terms. They were not themselves the serpent, the devil - that is scriptural language for the source of sin itself, which lies in the heart of man. But they were its children, its "seed" in the terms of Genesis 3. And they were at enmity with Jesus, the true seed of the woman. They would fulfil the lusts of their father, the devil. They were as it were his angels, speaking his false words, executing his wicked will. They refused to hear the words of God, but listened instead to their own hearts, and followed their own desires. And ultimately they would (though only temporarily) achieve the will of man in his rejection of God's will, by killing Jesus, the son of God, lifting him up exactly as he had prophesied, like the bronze serpent in the wilderness, and thus putting him into the grave. They were murders like both their first father, and their fathers in the flesh of previous generations.

When the passers-by mocked Jesus on the cross, they were, unwittingly, echoing in the form of their taunt the same words that Jesus had heard but refused to follow in the wilderness. This was no accident. The same type of thinking was present in both situations, because it resides naturally in the human heart. But whereas those who abused Jesus in his suffering with these words were the seed of the serpent as we have seen, Jesus had battled and faced down, in his earlier temptation, not merely another human enemy like them, one who wanted to trip him and make him fall, but the very source of sin, as it were the serpent itself in its smooth but murderous lie. He had earlier fought and resisted the devil, the serpent, the father of all sinners. He had struck a powerful blow to the enemy, wounding its forehead, but it was not yet dead. Now the devil's children, the seed of the serpent, were following their nature derived from him, in their enmity repeating the same subtle, deceitful challenge to the true son of God. Yet at this same moment, even as his death approached, Jesus was going to complete his work, and cut off the enemy's head. By complete subjection of himself to God's will, he overcame. He proved himself to be the promised seed of the woman, by bruising and destroying, not the serpent's children, but the very head of the enemy, the serpent-mind of sin itself. This he achieved in the very place where sin normally has its throne, in a mortal body of flesh and blood. But sin was not going to have dominion over Jesus. He would not serve sin, but only his father, right to his dying breath.

The heart of man is deceitful; in it lurks the potential for every type of human wickedness and rebellion. This is true of all the descendants of Adam, because we are all flesh and blood, after our first father's corrupted image. The potential for sin lies within us all, and it is fundamental that Jesus was not different in that respect. He was tempted in all points like as we are. But for him, above all other men, it was essential to resist the devil itself - the thought of wickedness arising within his own heart - and overcome it, refusing to disobey God. Had Jesus failed in that, had he forgotten the Lord his God and walked after other gods, serving and worshipping the imagination of man's own mind (just as the tempter requested of him in the wilderness), in the way that Israel after the flesh had earlier failed, we all would surely perish (Deu 8:19).

James tells faithful readers that they must resist the devil, and it will flee (Jas 4:7) . Those called to be saints must seek to do in their own lives what their lord has already done completely in his, gaining the victory for his people, saving us from our sins. We must strive against sin, as he did. But he is our head, our leader, who has shown us the way. Like David his forefather, he fought the good fight, first striking a blow to, and then cutting right off, the head of the champion, the leader of the enemy's forces. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. The same pattern is true for us. Jesus has defeated the very devil itself, overcoming it and destroying it by his death (Heb 2:14). It is now our task, not as the head of the army but simply as his foot-soldiers, to copy our leader, striving to resist the devil, taking the warfare forward in faith. We cannot do it alone. Sadly, indeed, we often fail. But the pattern is there; one has gone ahead, our forerunner, and the victory is certain. Those in the opposing army, like the mockers at Jesus' crucifixion, are in fact doomed. Their leader has been overthrown and they ultimately will perish unless they change sides, repenting of wickedness, and come over into the light of the truth (as some Philistines did, even people from Goliath's own city, such as Obed-Edom, and Ittai with his 600), becoming part of the army of the living God.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 09 July 2011 - 10:43 PM.


#23 Chrlsp

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:32 AM

The argument that Jesus' temptation was purely internal is based on his being led into the wilderness and that he was alone there.

Can you show me from Scripture where Jesus is said to be alone in his temptation?

On the other hand, we know from the context of the gospels that the wilderness into which John came preaching was an inhabited place. Led into the wilderness does not equal being alone.

The wilderness in the context of the gospels was an area about Jordan. The area into which John came preaching the baptism of repentence. We also are told that many people came to John's baptism, including many of the Pharisees and Sadducees which John refers to as a generation of vipers.

Jesus was baptized by John, the Spirit decended upon him, and he was afterward led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Now, since it is proved that this wilderness was an ever increasing populated place, including a generation of vipers, why do you insist that Jesus was alone?

The context of the gospels shows that the wilderness was an ever increasing populated place.

Unless you can show from Scripture that the wilderness into which Jesus was led was an unpopulated place where he could be alone in his temptation I'll will just accept it as an opinion.

Edited by Chrlsp, 10 July 2011 - 02:34 AM.


#24 Chrlsp

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 02:49 AM

We can ask....Why is it said that Jesus was led into the wilderness? Doesn't that imply that he was led away into the desert alone? Why "the wilderness"?

Again, as I pointed out earlier, the wilderness, in the context of the gospels is not limited to an unpopulated deserted place. It also refers to people. If we imagine the wilderness as a place of valleys, mountains, hills and wild beast, then we can see the connection as to why the gospel writers quote Isaiah: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:"

Valleys of the wilderness are low places. To exalt the valleys is to raise the lowly people of the land. The poor and undesirable.

Mountains and hills of the wilderness are higher places. To make low these is to level them with the valleys, to make them equal.

This is what Jesus came into the wilderness to do.

Edited by Chrlsp, 10 July 2011 - 03:17 AM.


#25 Chrlsp

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:06 AM

Your claim that many disbelieving Jews, whom were referred to as a generation of vipers, were not themselves the devil but simply "scriptural language for the source of sin itself, which lies in the heart of man." can be refuted by the fact that Jesus called Judas a devil and Peter satan.

In other words, it is not just the source of sin itself which is referred to as the devil and satan, but individuals also.

Edited by Chrlsp, 10 July 2011 - 03:20 AM.


#26 Mark Taunton

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:10 AM

Your claim that many disbelieving Jews, whom were referred to as a generation of vipers, were not themselves the devil but simply "scriptural language for the source of sin itself, which lies in the heart of man." can be refuted by the fact that Jesus called Judas a devil and Peter satan.

In other words, it is not just the source of sin itself which is referred to as the devil and satan, but individuals also.

There's a slight but very significant difference in the cases. When Jesus says that one of the twelve (Judas, obviously) is a devil, the word does not have the definite article, so it is just "a" devil. But when the word "devil" appears in the narrative of Jesus' temptations, it always has the definite article: "the" devil. If the temptation narrative had first started by mentioning "a" devil (that is, some particular individual like Judas), then we would understand that "the" devil thereafter would be that same person. But it doesn't - it is exclusively "the devil", always with the definite article. I believe this shows that Jesus is not being tempted by just someone like Judas, a devil, but by "the" devil, that is, the very same thing, the source of sin that lies in in our mortal bodies, which he finally destroyed in his death (Heb 2:14).

Edited by Mark Taunton, 10 July 2011 - 08:11 AM.


#27 nsr

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 08:56 AM

Chrisp,

As I said before, I believe the mention of wild animals is intended to emphasise that Jesus was alone.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#28 Chrlsp

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 03:56 PM


Your claim that many disbelieving Jews, whom were referred to as a generation of vipers, were not themselves the devil but simply "scriptural language for the source of sin itself, which lies in the heart of man." can be refuted by the fact that Jesus called Judas a devil and Peter satan.

In other words, it is not just the source of sin itself which is referred to as the devil and satan, but individuals also.

There's a slight but very significant difference in the cases. When Jesus says that one of the twelve (Judas, obviously) is a devil, the word does not have the definite article, so it is just "a" devil. But when the word "devil" appears in the narrative of Jesus' temptations, it always has the definite article: "the" devil. If the temptation narrative had first started by mentioning "a" devil (that is, some particular individual like Judas), then we would understand that "the" devil thereafter would be that same person. But it doesn't - it is exclusively "the devil", always with the definite article. I believe this shows that Jesus is not being tempted by just someone like Judas, a devil, but by "the" devil, that is, the very same thing, the source of sin that lies in in our mortal bodies, which he finally destroyed in his death (Heb 2:14).



When Jesus calls Judas "a" devil he specifically is referring to one individual. However, when "the devil" is used it refers to not just a single individual but a collective assembly of disbelievers. In the case of Jesus' temptation "the devil" was the collective assembly of disbelieving Jews....chief priest, Pharisees, elders and leaders. the ones whom throughout the New testament sought proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be...the son of God.
This collective assembly of disbelievers is also referred to as "the world".

Edited by Chrlsp, 10 July 2011 - 04:26 PM.


#29 Mark Taunton

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 04:25 PM

ChrIsp,

I'm sorry this reply is out of order. I didn't have much time earlier when I replied to your last comment.

The argument that Jesus' temptation was purely internal is based on his being led into the wilderness and that he was alone there.

Others have mentioned that Jesus was alone (as I also have, in passing), but that's not the basis of my own argument, at all. I have given several quite separate reasons why Jesus' temptation was internal.

Can you show me from Scripture where Jesus is said to be alone in his temptation?

I don't know of a scripture that explicitly says he was "alone" as such, although there are suggestions towards that, as Nsr has pointed out.
However, I can equally ask the reverse question:
Can you show me from scripture that there were definitely other people in the wilderness with Jesus? For myself, I can't see any evidence of that.

(Obviously in this, we must leave aside the reference to "the devil" as implying another person. If you assume that "the devil" just was in fact another human being, you can't then rely on that assumption to prove that there was another human being there - that would be "circular logic".)

On the other hand, we know from the context of the gospels that the wilderness into which John came preaching was an inhabited place. Led into the wilderness does not equal being alone.

The wilderness in the context of the gospels was an area about Jordan. The area into which John came preaching the baptism of repentence. We also are told that many people came to John's baptism, including many of the Pharisees and Sadducees which John refers to as a generation of vipers.

Jesus was baptized by John, the Spirit decended upon him, and he was afterward led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Now, since it is proved that this wilderness was an ever increasing populated place, including a generation of vipers, why do you insist that Jesus was alone?

Jesus was certainly with other people at the time of his baptism, and John earlier had warned and confronted particular people he called a "generation of vipers". But those people, including "the generation of vipers", didn't live in the wilderness. We are told that they came from various inhabited places around that area, specifically, Jerusalem, all Judea, and the region about Jordan (Mt 3:5). No-one is said to have come from the wilderness to John's baptism.

Also, the description in Luke shows that where John was baptising was not itself the wilderness:

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins
(Luke 3:1-3)

This tells us that although John was in the wilderness when God's word came to him, he moved from there to come into "all the country about Jordan" (where people already were living, Mt 3:5), to start his great work.

So Jesus wasn't already in the wilderness when he was baptised, but in a different place. He had to leave John after his baptism to go into the wilderness. So he he was going away from where the people were (including the "generation of vipers") who had come to John's baptism.

The context of the gospels shows that the wilderness was an ever increasing populated place.

Unless you can show from Scripture that the wilderness into which Jesus was led was an unpopulated place where he could be alone in his temptation I'll will just accept it as an opinion.

You've not actually presented any scripture that shows people were generally living in the wilderness. The only context I can think of is that of John the Baptist himself, as he grew up in the wilderness (Luke 1:80). But he was not someone ordinary: his birth was miraculous, his father was a prophet, the holy spirit was upon him from the womb, and God was preparing him specially for his great work, until he would be "shown to Israel". In addition, his diet and clothing were quite unusual. There's nothing I know of to show that any ordinary people actually lived in the wilderness as he did, that it was a normal thing.

But maybe there is such a passage, in which case it will be very helpful to your view if you would point it out.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 10 July 2011 - 05:59 PM.


#30 Mark Taunton

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Posted 10 July 2011 - 04:30 PM

When Jesus calls Judas "a" devil he specifically is referring to one individual. However, when "the devil" is used it refers to not just a single individual but a collective assembly of disbelievers. In the case of Jesus' temptation "the devil" was the collective assembly of disbelieving Jews....chief priest, Pharisees, elders and leaders.
This collective assembly of disbelievers is also referred to as "the world".

Can you prove that, please? Specifically, I'm interested in your saying:

when "the devil" is used it refers to not just a single individual but a collective assembly of disbelievers

It's not an idea I've come across before, nor can I think of any scriptural basis for it. Do you have a particular scriptural passage in mind when you say that? Please quote it if so, to show that what you say is true.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 10 July 2011 - 04:53 PM.





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