Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. –Matthew 4:1-11
The very next thing that happened after Jesus baptism was not what you’d expect. Instead of immediately marching into town to start preaching and healing people, instead Jesus marched out into the desert. He stayed there for 40 days without eating anything. Just think of how weak and hungry he must have been (I can hardly go 40 minutes without food, let alone 40 days)!
Then, when Jesus must have been close to collapsing, it got worse: the devil showed up. He had been waiting for a moment of weakness, and now he pounced. Satan knew that if he could trick Jesus, get him to mess up here, the whole rescue mission would be off. Jesus had to be perfect, so that he could earn that 100% grade for us and then be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. A 99% wouldn’t be good enough. So all that Satan needed was one little slip up. Satan probably thought it would be easy; after all, he had convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit even when they had all the other food they could want. Every day, Satan finds it easy to trick you and me into loving stufdf more than we love God. And now Jesus was starving; convincing him to make himself some lunch should be no trouble at all. But Satan underestimated just how dedicated Jesus was to obeying God and God alone.
You might wonder what’s so bad about these temptations that Satan used on Jesus. After all, there’s nothing wrong with turning rocks into bread, is there? But Satan is sneaky; all of his temptations of Jesus were really about the same thing: trying to get Jesus to stop trusting his Father’s plan, and to use his power to help himself. Satan was saying, “You’re a miracle worker, aren’t you? Use some of that power to help yourself for once! You want a big crowd to follow you? Just do this neat trick, and then everyone will believe you! You want people from all nations to follow you? I’ll make them do it, as long as you do it my way.”
But each time, Jesus stood firm. Each time Satan offered him the easy way out, Jesus chose the hard way instead. He loved and trusted his Father. He obeyed, no matter the cost. He was determined to earn that 100% grade—not for himself, but for you.
That’s right—this test wasn’t just for himself; it was for you too. Every time you’ve given into temptation, Jesus succeeded. Every time you disobeyed, Jesus obeyed. And he did it all so that his perfect grade could count for you, so that he could write your name at the top of his test and you get all the credit.
You need a 100% grade to get into heaven; God is so perfect and holy that he won’t accept anything less. So thank God that Jesus succeeded where we failed. Our only hope is his 100% grade. And because he aced the test, the doors of heaven are open to failures like us.