Text: Luke 3:21—4:13 | Listen to Message
More Than A Model
Christians are often quick to assume that the temptation of Christ – like everything else in the Bible – is all about us: “Jesus overcame temptation in order to show you how to overcome the temptations in your life.” Not so fast.
It’s fair to say that, in Luke 4, Jesus fought temptation with the Word of God, in the power of the Spirit of God, leaning on his confidence in the will of God. Jesus’ actions were always exemplary, so – yes – wise people will try to walk in his steps. But that isn’t even close to the main point of this story!
The fact is, Jesus wasn’t defeating temptation primarily as our model or exemplar; he was defeating temptation as our Representative, our Champion! The point is less about him showing you what to do, and more about him doing what you’ve failed to do – and what you cannot do!
See, the context makes it clear that Jesus is both the Son of God (3:22, 38; 4:3, 9) and a son of Adam (3:23-38). He’s not facing temptation as a great teacher of morals or even as the founder of a new religion. He’s facing temptation as the Representative of a new humanity – a humanity that puts their faith in him rather than following the ways of the first Adam.
Remember Adam? He was fashioned by God and placed in a lush garden paradise. He had everything he could ever want, including intimate fellowship with God. There was no sin, no sadness, no pain, no death. But Adam sinned anyway. When tempted by the devil, Adam effectively said to God, “Not your will, but mine be done.” And humanity was driven from Paradise, away from the presence of God.
While we’re at it…remember Israel? God graciously delivered them from slavery in Egypt, but they spent the next 40 years wandering around in the wilderness because they didn’t want to trust and obey God. They wanted God on their own terms. So they, too, effectively told God, “Not your will, but mine be done.”
Here’s the point: We are meant to see in Luke 3 and 4 that Jesus is the Second Adam and the True Israel. Like the first Adam, he was tempted by Satan. But unlike Adam, Jesus was starving to death in a wilderness – a place so barren and lifeless that the Jews called it Jeshimon, “The Devastation.” Jesus was in a wilderness, much like Israel after The Exodus. But where Adam and Israel failed, Jesus succeeded.
When Satan tempted him to act presumptuously and run ahead of God’s will, Jesus waited on the Father. When Satan tempted him to take a shortcut to power and glory that avoided the sufferings of the cross, Jesus worshiped the Father. When Satan tempted him to test one of the Father’s promises, Jesus trusted the Father without needing to prove anything. Jesus always did the Father’s will, the Father’s way, at the Father’s pace. Every moment of every day, with every choice he faced, Jesus responded to the Father, “Not my will, but thine be done!”
What was Jesus doing? He was piling up a record of obedience. He was living the life we should’ve lived. He was leading his people back to Paradise!