You are my son, whom I dearly love. (Luke 3:22)
The story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness underscores his humanity. The birth narratives emphasize that God sent God’s Son into the world to experience being fully human. The temptation story reminds us of Jesus’ continued humanity. The way in which Jesus in human form dealt with temptation can be an example for us.
In this situation and throughout Jesus’ ministry, it’s apparent that Jesus has been raised in the Jewish faith. Jesus was familiar with Jewish Scripture and referred to it often in his teaching. All of his responses to his tempter in the wilderness came from Scripture. When tempted to turn stones into bread, Jesus replied with words from Deuteronomy 8:3, “People won’t live only by bread.” In Deuteronomy these words refer to the experience of the Israelites being fed manna in the wilderness. When Jesus was tempted with power and offered of all the kingdoms of the ] world, he responded with words based on Deuteronomy 6:13, “You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.
The tempter, seeing what Jesus was doing, attempted to beat him at the Scripture game. In tempting Jesus to throw himself off of the highest point in the Temple, the tempter quoted Psalm 91:11-12, saying, “[God] will command his angels concerning you, to protect you” and “they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” Jesus did not deny these words but pointed out that it was also written, “Don’t test the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:16).
Are we then to go around quoting Scripture in order to resist temptation? While this might work in some situations, to do so entirely would be missing the point. Jesus had studied Scripture. He had been raised in the faith and was therefore prepared to face temptation. He had a solid foundation and understanding upon which to draw. A strong foundation on the Word of God is what you are helping build as you teach Sunday school. Such a foundation will help children make good choices when faced with temptation in their own lives.
God chose Jesus; Jesus chose God.
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