Christian Religious Studies Notes

The Temptation Of Jesus

To tempt someone is to persuade that person to do something which is wrong. It may be persuade someone to go against the wishes of his or her parents or that of the school. No one is above being tempted, infact, we are all being tempted everyday to do what is wrong.  Temptation is that we should always expect. To be tempted is not bad in itself, what is bad is to yield to that temptation and as a result we break the good relationship that exists between God and us. When Jesus was on Earth, He was tamped all through, but He refused to yield to such temptation. He was helped by the Holy Spirit in His life. Therefore, anyone who has the knowledge of God’s word and the presence of the Holy Spirit will always overcome the temptation to sin.


The story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness is recorded in all the three synoptic Gospel. They can be found in Mathew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13.  According to Mathew, after Jesus’ baptism, He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights and He became hungry afterwards.  Then Satan, the tempter got an opportunity to tempt Him; he said, “if you are the son of God, command these stones to become bread”.  Jesus replied him by quoting the scriptures, “Man shall not live by bread alone,  but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.

In the second temptation, Jesus was taken by the devil to the holy city of Jerusalem, and set on the pinnacle of the temple, then the devil asked Him to throw Himself down if He knew indeed that He was the son of God.  The devil quoted the scriptures to assure Jesus of safety by saying: “He will give His angels charge of you; and on their hands, they will bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone”.  Jesus replied him also by quoting scriptures that: you shall not tempt the Lord your God”.

In the third temptation, the devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of this world and their glory and promised to give them to Jesus, only if He would fall down and worship him.  Jesus also quoted the scripture to overcome this, saying: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve”.

After this last temptation, the devil left Him immediately and the Angels came and ministered to Jesus.  According to Mark, after Jesus’ baptism, He was taken by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days and was tempted by Satan.  Mark reported that during the period, Jesus lived with wild beasts.

According to Luke, Jesus returned from Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for forty days and was tempted by the devil.  Both Mathew and Luke presented a similar account of the story of the temptation of Jesus.  The only differences from Luke’s are: being taking to the high mountain which was recorded as the third temptation in Matthew, is second in Luke; then, being taken to the pinnacle of the temple, which is recorded as the second temptation in Matthew, is third in Luke.  Luke added the after the temptation, the devil departed from Jesus until an opportune time which means the devil could still return.

The Significance of the Temptation of Jesus

  1.  The first temptation was meant to portray Jesus as an economic Messiah which only caters for the physical needs of the people and ignoring their spiritual needs.
  2. The second temptation was meant to present Jesus as a miracle-working Messiah who would manifest supernatural powers like jumping from the great height of the temple.  To have done this would have caused Jesus to be misunderstood by the people.  Jesus would have been in people’s imagination not in their conscience.
  3. The third temptation was meant to make Jesus appear as a political Messiah who could lead the Jews to war against the Romans to regain their political independence.
  4. For Jesus to have been tempted means no one is above temptation.

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