Luke 4:9-13 (NIV) The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
This third test was not about impressing people as they watched Jesus float harmlessly down to the ground from the heights of the temple. Instead, satan was trying to put doubt into Jesus’ mind about who He was and what He was called to do. The general idea was that if Jesus really was the Son of God, if He really was the Messiah, then God would pull out all the stops to protect Him until His time came.
Satan proposed a test to prove Jesus’ status: just jump from the temple. If He ended up unharmed by the experience, He was God’s Son for sure. If He was killed or maimed in the process, He wasn’t. Very simple. And if He was afraid to try, it showed that He had doubts about who He claimed to be.
Satan even shored up his own position with Scripture taken from Psalm 91:11-12, which seems to show that God will not allow anything bad to happen to someone who trusts in Him. The actual context of the verse says that God will protect His people in the midst of His judgment on His enemies, not that He will protect His people from being harmed by their own rash actions, by any of the bad things that normally occur to people, or by their testing of Him.
But satan was aiming this third test at an area where Jesus had no weaknesses or insecurities. He knew who He was, and He heard God’s voice from heaven at His baptism claiming Him as His Son and expressing His love for Him. He had nothing that He had to prove to Himself, and He definitely had nothing He had to prove to satan. So He refused to test God, and backed up His decision with His own Scripture that meant exactly what it said in its proper context.
Game, set, match! Unlike the first Adam who failed the first test he faced, Jesus, the last Adam, passed a forty-day marathon of testing and trials. The test now being complete, satan slunk off “until an opportune time,” and Jesus was now ready to begin His public ministry.
Father, I think it is so vital to see that a key to Jesus’ victory in this last temptation was a strong knowledge of who He was in You. He had nothing to prove. He knew that He was Your Son, and He knew what His mission was so strongly that the temptations of the enemy to doubt could find no foothold. Help me to have that same confidence, that same assurance of who I am in You, and of what I am called to do, so that no matter what happens, satan can never shake me, move me, discourage me, or make me doubt. Amen.