Christ’s Temptation on the Cross Illustrates How Satan Tempts Christians to Sin
This Bible study describes some of the ways Satan tempted Jesus Christ to sin during His earthly ministry. The devil still uses these same methods to tempt Christians to sin and fall. The primary focus of this study will be Christ’s final temptation on the cross.
In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter gave us this warning:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”1 Peter 5:8
Christ’s Temptation in the Wilderness
Immediately after Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-2). The Bible records three temptations that occurred after Jesus had been fasting 40-days. Two of those temptations began with the taunt, “If You are the Son of God,” followed by a temptation to do something contrary to the Will of God (Luke 4:3-12).
Satan often uses this method on us. The devil tempts people to do something wrong to prove themselves in some way. Examples would include cheating to get good grades, lying to get a good job, sacrificing time with your family to prove yourself financially by getting ahead at work. Someone may resort to violence, fighting to “prove himself a man.” The list could go on at length, but you understand.
Jesus defeated the devil through these trials by quoting the Word of God. Luke then records, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13 – ESV). It is likely that Satan tempted Jesus many more times throughout His 3-year ministry (Mt 16:21-23 for example), but what could be a more opportune time than during Christ’s crucifixion on the cross?
Jesus defeated the devil through these trials by quoting the Word of God
Christ’s Temptation on the Cross
Jesus had already sweat blood, asking His Father to take the cup from Him if possible (Luke 22:41-44). He had been betrayed by one of His disciples (Judas Iscariot Matthew 27:3), was denied three times by another (Peter), and deserted by the rest (Matthew 26:56). He was arrested, falsely accused in an illegal trial, beaten, mocked, and brutally whipped.
Then they stripped Him naked, nailed Him to a cross, and crucified Him between two criminals. But Jesus remained steadfast, faithfully obeying His Father’s will.
The devil’s last attempt at tempting Jesus echos back to the wilderness trials. You can almost hear Satan whispering through the pages of scripture, “If You are the Son of God, save Yourself.”
The Crowd Tempted Jesus to Save Himself
The spectators and Jewish leaders, the Roman soldiers, and even the thieves being crucified with Him, all tempted Jesus to save Himself.
The people stood looking on, but the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.“
Then one of the criminals on a cross beside Him blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Luke 23:35-37, 39 – NKJV)
Jesus remained steadfast, faithfully obeying His Father’s will
These all tempted Jesus to prove He was the Son of God by saving Himself from the cross. But God did not send His Son to save Himself from death on the cross. God sent Jesus to save us from eternal death in hell.
The Word of God became The Son of Man to die on the cross, to save us from our sin. This time, instead of quoting scripture, Jesus fulfilled scripture by dying on the cross as “it is written.”
The Devil Tempts Us to Save Ourselves
Satan still uses the temptation to “save yourself” in our lives today. It could be the temptation to save ourselves from some physical danger at the expense of others. More often it is just to do something selfish regardless of how it impacts others, rather than putting the needs of others ahead of our own desires.
It may be as simple as withholding the gospel from someone just to avoid being embarrassed. Or we may be tempted to compromise our Christian testimony and/or deny our faith in God’s Word to avoid being ridiculed or persecuted. But beware, “whosoever will save his life shall lose it” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33).
- During Christ’s wilderness temptations, the devil tempted Jesus to do something contrary to the Will of God to prove He was the Son of God.
- Satan also tempts people to sin in order to prove themselves in some way.
- During Christ’s crucifixion, the devil tempted Jesus to save Himself to prove He was the Son of God, but that would have defeated Christ’s purpose for coming to earth.
- Satan also tempts people to sin in some way to get ahead personally at the expense of others.
- God did Not send His Son to “save Himself” from Death on the Cross
- God sent Jesus Christ to Save Us from eternal death in Hell
Jesus Christ proved He Is the Son of God by staying on the cross
and dying to save us from our sin.
He Chose to Stay
Jesus came as a savior, not as a king
He came as a servant, salvation to bring
Down from the cross, Christ could have fled
But He chose to stay, and save us instead!
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