Monday, December 7, 2009

Was Jesus Tempted?

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Was Jesus truly tempted?  While most in the Christian faith are willing to agree that Jesus was entirely sinless in every respect, there is some debate as to whether He was ever really tempted to sin.  Many would ask: If Jesus was perfect and without sin, and it was ordained since before time that He would be the sinless sacrifice for the sins of the world than how is it that He could be truly tempted to sin?  Was His temptation real?
Read Hebrews 4:14-16 and you must come to the conclusion that Jesus was tempted.  In fact, I would propose here that Jesus was tempted to an even greater degree than any of us could ever understand.  Temptation, you see, is experienced on a continuum of intensity.  Let me explain this with a simple, non-spiritual example.  An insignificant amount of temptation would be something like the temptation to eat a cookie after you had just had a wonderful three-course meal with dessert.  While for most a cookie is always tempting, with a full stomach it can easily be resisted.  An unbearable temptation might be experienced if one hasn’t eaten in a week and is placed before a table of irresistible foods.  The temptation continuum is different for everyone.  Some things are very tempting for some and not for others.
This text says that Jesus was “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Therefore, as a result of this text, we can come to two important truths.  First, we must believe that Jesus was tempted, just as we are in life.  His temptation was real and He experienced that temptation in a very real, human way.  Second, we can conclude that because Jesus experienced temptation without sin, He experienced temptation to its greatest degree.  Where we have failed, He has triumphed.  When we have given in to temptation to sin against God, we have given in at some point in the middle of that continuum of temptation.  Since Jesus never sinned, He experienced the fullest degree of temptation on that continuum.
             Thus…16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  We have one who knows our faults and challenges in life and loves us anyway!  Turn to Him in all things!



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