1-16 The Temptations Of Jesus
Now, let's go on then and think about the temptations of Jesus. This is obviously a very big thing in the CGAF theology - the temptations of Christ. Now I want to make the point very strongly that you cannot read the record of those temptations absolutely literally, that you can't read them absolutely literally. The idea that the Devil there is a personal being depends completely on a literal reading of it. Now here are a few reasons why I don't think you can read that literally. We are told he was taken up into a high mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world in their future glory in a moment of time. If the devil just gave him a vision why did he take him up on the top of a mountain to give him a vision? I don't see any point in that.
Now, if you compare the records of the temptations in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, you will see that those three temptations are presented in different order. In one, you've got, for example, say the temptation to make stones into bread, that comes first and then in another record, you will find that is second or third. So then, that means that those temptations occurred more than once. Now we are told another proof of that in Mark 1: 13 it says that Christ was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan. The temptations of Satan went on for the forty day period. Now Matthew 4: 3 says that after the forty days had finished, then he was tempted by Satan. So then, you can't avoid the conclusion that those things happened far more than once. Now, for Christ to go up to the highest mountain, well I mean even Hermon in the north would have been the high mountain in that area, he wouldn't have had time to walk up there, come back down again, experience all those temptations in just a matter of a few days. Now, you've also got the idea of the devil leading Christ through the streets of Jerusalem and climbing up this pinnacle of the temple which seems to me to be a preposterous thing to take literally. We're told then, that the devil said to Christ, " I can give you all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time."
I believe there he was actually being given a vision of the Kingdom of God because he saw the whole kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And he says the power and the glory of those kingdoms I can give you. But time and again we are told the power and the glory of the kingdom belong to God and God alone. " Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory." But we are told in Psalm 2: 7, 8, God says to Christ in prophecy, " Ask of me and I will give you the kingdoms of the world" - ask of me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world, for your inheritance" . Now Christ knew that that was possible. He only had to ask God and he would get it. So then the devil had no power to actually offer him those things. What it was then was his own mind tempting him to ask God as Psalm 2 said he could for the Kingdom, the power and the glory there and then without having to go through the cross. Now Christ didn't turn around and say, " Come off it Satan, you haven't got the power to give me those kingdoms, the kingdom belongs to God" - no! he had to exhort himself: Don't tempt the Lord your God. Now we are told that all power and all authority is given to Christ by God - the devil was not involved in it. The devil didn't sort of make a handover of all authority and power when Christ died on the cross. No, God gave Christ that power and authority.
Now because the Lord Jesus Christ had our human nature and he had those temptations arising within him, he had that human man, the man, the natural man inside him, and yet his spiritual man was separate from that natural man. When you think of it, there was no way in which the record of the temptation of Christ could be announced to us in any other language apart from to personify those evil desires which he had and yet which he overcame. Therein is the basis of the atonement that it was through his death and through having that man of the flesh inside him, that overcoming that, we are able to have salvation.
One final point. Mark said that when it says that the spirit led Christ into the wilderness he said, well there you are, the devil is a spirit: the devil led Christ. Now Mark I know believes in interpreting scripture by scripture. It must have occurred to all of us who have studied this passage that every time Christ is tempted, he quotes from the Old Testament and he quotes every time from either Deuteronomy 8 or 6. It is always in the context of Israel in the wilderness. So there you are, Israel were led by God, by the angel, the Spirit, if you like, into the wilderness for forty years, just like Christ was led for forty days in the wilderness, and then he was hungry. It says in Deuteronomy 8 that God allowed Israel to go hungry in the wilderness so that they might learn His providence. And so it was exactly the same with Christ. That's why he keeps quoting from Deuteronomy. So there is a definite parallel there between the experience of Israel in the wilderness and the experience of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness. Now Israel were not led into the wilderness by the devil, they were led by the Spirit, by Yahweh's angel, the spirit manifest in that angel. They weren't led by somebody called Satan or the devil. And so in the parallel with the Lord Jesus, he was led not by the devil, but as it says, by the Spirit.