Five examples of temptation – Jesus teaches us about victory

There is someone who can really understand us because He Himself was made to suffer. And there is someone who can really help because He Himself succeeded. Jesus Christ showed how we can overcome temptation. Now all we have to do is follow His example.

“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” This passage from Hebrews 2, verse 18, is what Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider used in a divine service Évreux in France on 26 March 2017.

The Son of God became man in order to share the fate of man. And Jesus really did experience the whole scale of human suffering—physical suffering such as hunger, thirst, and pain, and mental suffering such as injustice, contempt and scorn, and betrayal.

The temptation of Jesus

Jesus was exposed to the temptations of the evil one just as much as any other human being, the Chief Apostle said, and mentioned five examples.

  • Wealth, glory, and knowledge: “It would be so much easier if I did not have to absolutely respect the will of God.” This is what Jesus was confronted with in the desert. “All of us are faced with this temptation”—making a small exception or indulging in a small lie for a little bit more prosperity or recognition.
  • In the desert, the Pharisees, even on the cross—people had no qualms about their doubts and voiced them loudly. “If you are the Son of God then …” This is also part of the temptation we face: the spirit from below tries to call our childhood in God into question. “Do you really believe that you have been called?”
  • Through Peter, Jesus saw Himself tempted to call God’s plan of salvation into question: “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” Again and again we are tempted to impose our own will onto God. “If you really want to save me, then heal me, give me work, and see to this and that for me.”
  • The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus with a series of questions into contradicting Himself and His teaching and thereby defying the law of God. “Does that not happen to us too from time to time?” The Apostle ministry, our conception of the realm of the departed, our expectation of Christ’s return. We are often challenged: “They are telling you stories in your Church.”
  • Jesus experienced His biggest trial on the cross: the feeling that His heavenly Father had abandoned Him. This is something all of us have experienced before too: “We call on God, and when there is no answer we feel abandoned, betrayed, and alone.”

Jesus to the rescue

“How comforting it is to know that Jesus was tried and tempted just as we are,” Chief Apostle Schneider emphasises. “He not only understands your suffering and pain, but also suffers with you and for you.” In fact, He can help us because He knows it works.

What form does the help of Jesus take?

  • The Risen One makes sure that we are never tested over and above what we can carry.
  • If ever we succumb to trials, He grants us His grace.
  • His life is an example to us: He trusted in God and fulfilled His will.
  • His word and Holy Communion give us the necessary strength.
  • At His return He will once and for all liberate us from the influence of the evil one.

What we can do

Those who are uncertain, weak, or in doubt can turn to Jesus any time, the Chief Apostle said.

  • In prayer: “Do not stop praying. Fight with the Lord and tell Him, ‘Lord, I do not want to lose You.’”
  • In Holy Communion: “The effect of Holy Communion depends on your longing to have fellowship with God.”
  • Through the ministers: “Speak with them about your doubts, the battles you have with your faith, your weaknesses, your pain and suffering.” They will not be able to solve your problem, but they will be able to pray with those who are suffering and to ask God to solve the problem.

The Chief Apostle summed things up as follows: Because Jesus was tried and tempted as we are, and suffered as we do, He can understand our pain. Because He has overcome suffering and temptation, He can help all those who turn to Him and trust in Him.

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Andreas Rother
France, Chief Apostle, Divine service