In my Vietnam Bible class on Saturday evenings I’ve been teaching the gospel of Luke. A week ago we looked at the temptation story in Luke 4.
The temptations of Jesus provide an easy lesson. After all, it has the customary three points: Satan sometimes tempts us to do something good just to get us in his grasp. At other times he tempts us to settle for less than God intends for us. Third, he tempts us to doubt God – to challenge God to prove himself.
There are questions though: Why was Jesus in the wilderness in the first place? He was led there by God for the express purpose of temptation – not that God tempted him, but God placed him in a vulnerable position so that Satan could tempt him. Why? And might God do the same to us?
A lesson I’ve often overlooked is why Luke tells us this story in the first place.
He has introduced Jesus as “the Lord,” the “son of the Most High,” the “Savior” and the “Son of God.” God himself testified to Jesus’ sonship at his baptism.
But was he really?
Luke follows his assertions with a long section (4:1 – 9:50) filled with miracle stories – proofs of Jesus’ identity. But the first proof is not a miracle. It is the temptation story. Satan tempts Jesus twice to prove he is the son of God (the first and third temptation). Jesus overcomes the temptations by refusing to submit and thereby proves, in an unexpected way, he is the son of God. Only the Son of God would be able to overcome the devil so decisively.
There is a lesson here for us: We too are God’s children, and there is no greater proof of our relationship with him (or lack of it) than how we too handle and overcome temptation.