In times of great sorrow or pain, we often find consolation in the knowledge that Jesus Christ knows exactly what we’re going through. Not only does the Atonement provide him with a complete knowledge and understanding of our suffering, but he himself faced loss, betrayal, and temptation.
The Temptation of Christ
One particular experience from the Savior’s life directly pits his ability to make perfect choices against the destructive influence of the adversary. When examined more closely, it reveals the greatest tactics of the adversary and how we can overcome them.
Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke record Christ being tempted by Satan.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil,” we read in Matthew 4:1.
Luke 4:1-2 says, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.”
It is at this moment Satan arrives on the scene.
Quick Relief in Time of Extremity
First and foremost, Satan tried to appeal to Christ’s hunger and thirst, which must have been beyond our comprehension after forty days. Make the stones into bread, the adversary said, if thou be the Son of God.
When we experience hardship, whether it is physical or spiritual, we want relief. We are hardwired in practically every sense for self-preservation. Often times, we latch onto the first thing to soothe the pain or make us feel better. Satan knows this and continually pushes alternatives to the healing powers of the gospel. This ranges from distractions that are simply good and not great to harrowing addictions and immoral behaviors.
We all have basic physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. When these needs are not met, we can feel as if we are starving and act out of desperation. Jesus Christ offers true healing and relief. We may need to exercise patience and perseverance, but it is only through the Atonement our wounds will be completely healed and our souls satisfied.
The Glory of Riches and Recognition
Christ lived a humble and meek life; one of the reasons so many disbelieved was because he did not come as a king, but as a carpenter’s son. We learn in the scriptures Jesus was despised of men and rejected. Knowing this, Satan showed Christ the riches and kingdoms of the world. All this glory and recognition could be Christ’s if he would just bow down and worship Satan.
The natural man is prone to pride and creates in all of us a desire for recognition, power, and riches. Not only do these seem to provide easy solutions to life’s many problems, but they also seem to fill our need to feel important and loved. Individuals, families, and nations have gone to the ends of the earth and their beliefs to earn more money and gain more glory.
In all ways, Christ was the perfect son and our perfect example. We can be pleasing unto God by always giving the glory to him. Gratitude is the easiest cure to pride! By prioritizing our daily lives and focusing on our families and our covenants, God will make us rich with blessings we can barely understand at this time.
Questioning of God’s Love
Perhaps the most insidious of all, Satan taunted Christ by trying to plant a seed of doubt in his mind about the nature of God. He told Christ to go to Jerusalem and cast himself off the highest pinnacle of the temple. God, after all, had given angels charge over Christ and would save him. In our lives today, we can hear similar taunts: if God truly loved us, and if we are truly children of God, then this wouldn’t be happening right now.
God would be here. God would save us.
If anything ever would have ruined the plan of God, it would have been to convince the Savior that he was anything but. Likewise, in our own lives, our individual plans are frustrated when we give in to that voice which tells us we are not who God says we are.
The greatest blessing of our eternity is that Christ did not give in to these taunts and temptations. If these are what Satan used for Christ, they’ve got to be his most powerful weapons against us. By recognizing them and learning of Christ and his Atonement, we can likewise become “more than conquerors through him that loved us.”