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About the Book Reviews Video


— Excerpt —

 

Chapter Four: The Public Life and Mission of Jesus Christ

 

V. The Three Temptations

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4:1–2)

This section will answer the following questions: (1) why did Jesus go in the desert, (2) why did he fast forty days, and (3) why did Satan tempt him?

1. The First Temptation

The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." (Luke 4:3)

Contrary to common belief, Jesus did not go in the desert to be tempted by Satan. He went in the desert to reclaim the right to his messiahship by offering a forty-day fast. The reason he had to fast for forty days was because John denied him the right to stand in the position of the Messiah when he failed to receive a baptism from Jesus. In other words, Jesus fasted for forty days because John prevented the Old Testament from connecting with the New Testament.

Jesus’ forty-day fast had a dual purpose. The first was to restore the position of John the Baptist, which was also the position of Elijah, and the second was to restore the foundation upon which he could stand in the position of the Messiah.

The three temptations became necessary because, while in the desert, Jesus was successfully fulfilling the dual purpose of his forty-day fast.

By losing John, God and Jesus lost the chosen people to Satan. The Messiah came for humanity. And the Israelites had been prepared by God for many years to receive the Messiah. Because John failed to connect with Jesus, the Israelites became Satan’s pawns. Therefore Jesus had to reclaim them for God.

Fasting for forty days, Jesus was certainly hungry, physically. But please do not take Satan’s request of turning the stone into bread literally. The stone that the devil was asking Jesus to turn into bread was not a literal stone. It was a symbol of humanity represented by the Israelites who at that point had fallen prey to Satan.

Let us consider another biblical verse as a reference with regard to the stone. It is recorded in the Bible, John the Baptist said to some Pharisees and Sadducees, "And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Matt. 3:9).

The stones, as we can see through the example in Matthew, are metaphors for human beings who are in the lineage and the realm of Satan. The Israelites, though sinful and in the realm of Satan, were symbolically representing the lineage of God as His chosen people.

Basically John told the Israelites that, if they (the chosen people) lost their sight of God’s will, God could use any other people the same way He claimed and used their ancestors. This is why, when tempting Jesus, Satan presented him with a stone instead of something else. Saving humanity was a priority in the mission of Jesus. He was hungry, hungry to save humanity. And the stone in Luke 4:3 (or stones in Matthew 4:3) was synonymous with sinful humanity.

In this first temptation the devil was asking Jesus to give divine life to the people who were in the satanic dominion. The devil knew that Jesus needed humanity (represented by the Israelites) in order to fulfill his mission. And he also knew that God would not and will never accept impurity in His realm of perfection. Finally the devil knew that Jesus would do whatever is the will of God. The will of God is to give life to His children who are spiritually dead in the realm of evil and bring them to the realm of perfection, the realm of God’s love—the realm of absolute goodness.

Satan was asking Jesus to do something he very well knew that God would not tolerate. The stone, in this temptation, represents the sinful people and the bread represents the pure people—those without an original sin or on the course to perfection. Changing the stone to bread was the deepest desire of Jesus, which was turning impurity into purity and imperfection to perfection. Basically Satan was asking Jesus to turn impure people into pure people because that is what God would have wanted Jesus to do. Sound familiar?

While still in the Garden of Eden, the devil tempted Eve the same way by telling her exactly what was true. The unfortunate thing was that the devil’s truth was misguided and not in the realm of God. It was true that the eyes of Adam and Eve would open if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But the devil did not tell Eve that their eyes would open in the realm outside of God’s ideal.

The devil knew that God sent Jesus to turn impurity into purity, imperfection into perfection, sinful into sinless, and evil into good. The devil knew that Jesus was aware of his mission. And the devil played the same game he played in the Garden of Eden by telling Jesus what Jesus knew was true. Once again, he did not clarify whether or not it was in accordance with God’s ideal.

If Jesus had turned the stone into bread, he would have done so under the guidance of Satan. If Jesus happened to turn impure people into pure people that God would have supposedly accepted according to His standard, he would have done so in the realm of Satan. Given that God would never accept any such work, He would either have had to reject Jesus or accept him and the satanic people whom he purified. Hence if God accepted those satanic people that Jesus purified when he was ordered to do so by Satan, He would therefore have had to accept Satan as another master of Creation. Jesus would not and certainly did not let that happen.

Jesus, however, did something that Adam and Eve should have done while they were in the Garden of Eden. He referred to God’s word. He gave an answer that told the devil that the young man was serious. Basically Jesus did not let the devil second-guess him. Another thing worth mentioning is that Satan’s goal is to destroy God’s realm of perfection. Adam and Eve ate the fruit while they were still in the realm of indirect dominion, which is the realm of imperfection. It is a realm of divine connection in which God relates to humanity through His word. By contrast the realm of direct dominion is the realm of perfection. It is a realm of divine connection in which God relates to humanity directly through the heart—the perfect love and perfect character of a human being. A human being who has incarnated God’s word is in the realm of God’s direct dominion. Since there has never been an individual who has reached the realm of direct dominion up to the time of the first temptation, the realm of direct dominion was still intact and Satan still could not corrupt it.

Given that Jesus was dedicated to restore the path to perfection, that Jesus wanted to restore the position of Adam, that Jesus wanted to restore the mission of John the Baptist, and that Jesus wanted to restore the foundation upon which he was to stand as the Messiah, Satan saw a new opportunity to destroy the path to God’s realm of direct dominion.

Since the stone symbolized sinful humanity under the bondage of Satan, and the bread symbolized pure or sinless humanity in the process of entering into the realm of God’s direct dominion, Jesus came to turn the stone into bread. That was the mission given to him by God. If he followed through with the order (word) that came from Satan, he would have repeated what happened in the Garden of Eden.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve carried out Satan’s commandment instead of God’s. Now in the desert, about four thousand years later, Satan was playing the same trick again. If Jesus turned the stone into bread on Satan’s order, he would have compromised the absoluteness and perfection of God’s realm of perfect love. It would have meant that God would no longer be the standard of perfection. It also would have meant that perfection would no longer have been based on God’s principles or ideal but on Satan’s pseudo principles. Therefore, God would have had to accept evil in His realm of perfect love—the realm of direct dominion. By answering, "Man does not live on bread alone" (Luke 4:4), Jesus was telling the devil that human perfection and God’s realm of perfection entail more than what he, the devil, thought he knew they entailed. An absolute connection of the heart with God is a prerequisite to enter the realm of perfection centered upon God.

He meant that the ideal of human purity and perfection did not depend on humanity’s hope of becoming pure and perfect; but on each human being living in accordance with God’s word. Human beings have to fulfill a certain portion of responsibility in order for the Messiah to be able to save them. The Messiah cannot wave a magic wand over sinful human beings (stones) and turn them into sinless human beings on the path to perfection (bread) without them showing any understanding of God’s word and His mode of operation. In Short it is only through a life of commitment to God’s word that every stone will become bread—not through the hope of becoming bread alone. Only God’s principles (His word, His mode of operation, etc.) convey the standard of perfection, nothing else. Only becoming one with God’s word will make an individual perfect. As it is recorded in Matthew, Jesus answered the devil by saying, "It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’" (4:4; emphasis added).

Through his victory over the first temptation, Jesus not only restored the possibility for God to use some Israelites, but also reclaimed the position of Adam in terms of an individual relationship with the word of God. He restored the foundation upon which human beings could someday become perfect incarnations of God’s word—become God’s temples.

 

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