Someone at Bible study last night asked why Jesus had to be tempted if he was the Son of God. My initial response was to point to Hebrews 4:15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus was truly human and temptation has been a part of the human experience for as long as there have been humans.
But Jesus did what Adam couldn’t. The contrast between the two temptations is interesting. Adam was surrounded by every good thing that God created and only had to abstain from the fruit of one tree. He was in paradise and lacked nothing. Yet he still failed. Jesus on the other hand was led out into the dry and desolate desert where he went without food for forty days. He had every reason to fail and yet he succeeded. So why did Jesus have to be tempted? In order to undo what was done in Adam and to fulfill God’s original intention for humanity. Salvation is as much about Jesus’ life as it is his death and resurrection.
But there’s another thing we can note: Jesus is our example. Jesus, as truly human, was empowered by the Spirit to resist every temptation that came his way. In other words, I don’t think it’ll do to just say, “Jesus was God so he couldn’t sin.” We have to take notice of his genuine humanity and Spirit empowerment. We’ve been given the same empowerment and opportunity to say no to sin when temptation arises. Paul says: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” There’s always a way of escape; Jesus knew that and took it and so should we.