Was Jesus Really Tempted by Satan?

As to the agent of the temptation, Matthew says, "To be tempted of the devil"; Mark, “Tempted of Satan"; Luke, "Tempted of the devil." The emphasis here is upon the fact that in the wilderness experience Jesus came face to face with the prince of the power of the air, with the god of this world, with Lucifer, son of the morning, fallen from his high estate of the first rank of heaven, and now leader of the hosts of darkness.

There have been many attempts to account for the temptation in other ways. It has been suggested that some man or company of men visited Him in the wilderness, and voiced the suggestions of evil; some even holding that the tempter was a member of His own family, who followed Him into the wilderness, and, with motives not unmixed with concern for Him, yet became the voice of evil. As all this is pure imagination and has not the slightest warrant in Scripture; it must be dismissed at once as false.

The more serious error is that the temptation arose from the natural operations of the mind of Christ. This is as unwarranted as is the other. As evil was presented to the first man, Adam, from without, so also was it to the second, Christ. But no time need be taken with these futile attempts to discount the actual accuracy of the scripture narrative. One of the chief values of this account of the temptation lies in the fact that Jesus here dragged Satan into the light and revealed the fact of his existence and the method of his operations.

Adapted from The Crises of the Christ, Book III, Chapter X, by G. Campbell Morgan.

Originally published September 13, 2010.