by Doris H. Murdoch, teacher and author of Testify: By the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony and Constructing Your Testimony
We read about the Mount of Temptation in the books of Matthew (4:1-11), Mark (1:12-13), and Luke (4:1-13). After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the Judean desert wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is believed that Jesus fasted for forty days in a cave on the Mount of Temptation, also called Mount Quarantal. The Mount of Temptation overlooks the oldest city in the world (10,000 years), the lowest point in the world (1300 feet below sea level), and the city of palms, the city of Jericho. Jericho is located in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The summit of the Mount of Temptation is seven miles northwest of Jericho. From the summit, one has a panoramic view of the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley and the mountains of Moab and Gilead. The Jesus Cave, the place of fasting and meditation, is located within the parameters of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation, which is about halfway up the mountain. At one time, the only way up the mountain was via a walking path, but today the monastery and Jesus Cave can be reached via a cable car.
After forty days of fasting, Jesus was hungry. The Bible tells us that the tempter or devil came to Jesus and said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Jesus responds with, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’ ” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Jesus was human like us; He hungered after forty days of fasting. Man’s body must be replenished after fasting. Jesus, unlike humans, was sinless; He faced temptation and did not give in. When faced with temptation, do you find strength in Jesus and the Word of God? Do you try not to give in or be disobedient of God and His commands? Are you striving to be Christ-like?
In the second temptation, the devil took Jesus to the Holy City of Jerusalem an-d had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. The devil said, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’ and ‘On their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’ ” (Psalm 91:11-12) Jesus responds with, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:16) Here the devil tempts Jesus with possessions, power and pride. We all like sporty cars or trucks, stylish clothing, beautiful homes, new technological gadgets, and the material world goes on and on! For a wealthy person or a person with leadership skills or gifts, it is a very strong temptation to get caught up in the devil’s schemes of power and possessions. Do you struggle to be strong in the Lord and allow Him to guide your acquisitions? Do you seek God’s will in how these things are used? Ask yourself, “Am I using these things to serve and glorify God?”
Lastly, the devil takes Jesus to another mountain and said, “All these things (kingdoms of the world) I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Jesus responds with, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:13, 10:20) The devil left Jesus and the angels came to Jesus and ministered to Him. Here, we see Jesus tempted by the devil, promising Jesus the world that was not even within his power. The devil was trying to distort the worldview for Jesus with world control that was not focused on God’s plan for mankind. Jesus kept His focus on God’s purpose for coming to earth as a man. He knew He was here to accomplish the journey to the cross. He was here “for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
As you recall, Eve was tempted by the devil, a real, fallen angel! The devil was thrown from Heaven because of his desires for power and his pride in that he was as great as God. Satan, the devil, is always around when there are people trying to follow and obey God. Just think, if Jesus would have given in to the devil, he would have failed in His assigned mission on earth, to die on the cross for our sins and to give us the opportunity to have eternal life. If the devil seems to be very active in your life, he may be trying to block God’s purposes for you and others around you. Daily, hour by hour, minute by minute, put your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on the journey that God has planned for you and allow God’s will to become your will. Is your victory in Jesus?