Temptations are uncomfortable. The possibility of failure makes us afraid, because some temptations have eternal consequences if we yield. The Temptation of Christ Jesus was even worse. This is because of two reasons:
One, the consequences of His failure were not reversible. If He failed, he would have been eternally lost, for there was no back up plan. Christ committed Himself to save us from sin and from ourselves, at the risk of eternal loss!
Two, He had no advantage over us. Christ had no advantage over us in resisting the devil. His divinity was quiescent in tempting situations. He faced them as the man Jesus, son of Mary. He took humanity with its liabilities. Four thousand years of conflict and courage, of conquest and conviviality, of revivals followed by even deeper apostasy, had weakened and almost made humanity a slave to sin.
So when the devil got a chance, after the Savior had been fasting for forty-days, and was famishing, he found it a good opportunity to tempt, harass and annoy. He (the devil) always takes advantage of our weak points and he destroys. You need to be more careful when at your low points.
So the order of the three-fold temptations involved turning stones into bread to prove His Sonship to God, jumping from the pinnacle of the temple, and finally worshipping the devil in exchange of the World and its magnificence. There’s much that can be learned from this passage, but I won’t serve all that today. Let’s focus on the order of occurrence. Is there something important about this? Why the first first and the last last?
The first temptation had to do with appetite.
The urges of the flesh. This is exactly where Adam failed. And this must be the way out for humanity. Notable victories and failures of man have a foundation in the matters of appetite. Uncontrolled appetite led to the fall of man in Eden, necessitated the deluge that cleansed the world of the antediluvians, brought about the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah, messed up Samson and wreaked-havoc in the family of King David. Victory over appetite made Joseph rise from slave to the prime minister of Egypt, the same victory made Daniel serve in highest authorities in one kingdom after the other, and by the same victory Christ qualified for the final showdown at Calvary, in which the kingdom of darkness was eternally discomfited.
“The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character. The continual transgression of man for six thousand years has brought sickness, pain, and death as its fruits. And as we near the close of time, Satan’s temptation to indulge appetite will be more powerful and more difficult to overcome.”– Maranatha 62.5
The second temptation had to do with presumption.
Christ was tempted to jump from the pinnacle of the temple with the assurance that God will protect him, as the Psalmist records. The devil could quote Scriptures to back up this. Quoting the same Scriptures from the Pentateuch, Christ reminded him that we must not tempt God. We must not just listen to people who are quoting Scriptures, they must quote it aright.
No one tempts God like misguided religious people, who sin deliberately with an intention of repenting immediately after that. See this: (Let me Sin for the last Time). The greatest danger with this is that ‘later’ may be too late, or not there at all.
After yielding to uncontrolled appetite, we will definitely doubt God’s word, or fail to comprehend it the same way gluttons sleep under the burning truths of God’s word. We must be prepared to face the devil and all the enemies of truth with a thus says the Lord. The truth is being trampled underfoot by false and enslaving systems, but in the end truth will triumph gloriously.
Finally, it had to do with Worship.
The devil promised all that the world can provide if only Christ could worship him. While Christ is King, in his humanity he was one of the poorest. He had no place to lay his head. He was not promised a promotion at work or an appointment somewhere, it was everything the world can provide.
This is where most of us have fallen headlong. Someone promises a young lady lunch, she gives him her virtue. A slight promotion, and we forget our marriage vows. We are more willing to exchange our all with a snippet of what Christ was offered and he refused for the glory of God.
The world is becoming more corrupt than ever before. It is hostile to righteousness and godliness. Despite all these, we are not excused to do as we wish, for the law of cause and effect has not been revised. The wages of sin is still death, and obedience perfect and perpetual is still the foundation of eternal life.
Joseph refused to yield to Potiphar’s wife and he qualified for greater responsibilities and even saved his family from the marauding famine. Daniel refused to eat the Babylonian diet and was able to stand before great men, empire after empire. Christ refused to yield on the point of appetite and the devil could not get His worship.
You need to realize that it’s appetite and worship in the extremes. He who is in charge of your appetite, will definitely get your worship. God cannot get your worship, if the devil is in charge of your appetite!
“Of all the lessons to be learned from our Lord’s first great temptation none is more important than that bearing upon the control of the appetites and passions. In all ages, temptations appealing to the physical nature have been most effectual in corrupting and degrading mankind.”– The Desire of Ages 122.