I was pondering the parallel nature of how Adam / Eve were tempted in the Garden and how Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. I have often heard preachers explain how temptation works via one passage or the other, but I had never considered the parallels. If we look at both passages, we will see that:
- God gives a command or affirmation
- God’s giving of the command or affirmation is called into doubt - did God really say that?
- God’s character or goodness is questioned / maligned
- A shortcut is offered
Let’s see how this works in each passage.
In the Garden
In this case, God gives a clear command and the serpent proceeds to question whether God commanded it, but there is a catch. God only commanded them not to eat from one tree, but the serpent says ‘any tree’. This slight change makes God look like a kill joy and makes God’s command seem unreasonable. The serpent then denies the consequence of sin and offers a shortcut to becoming like God. Mankind was made in God’s image, but because we took the shortcut, that image is shattered and can only be restored in Christ. It was a shortcut to nowhere - to death.
God’s Command: Genesis 2:16-17 - And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said
Shortcut: eat from the tree and you will be like God
In the Wilderness
In this case, God affirms that Jesus is His beloved Son. Then the devil twice says “if you are the Son of God” - questioning God’s affirmation and calling into question whether or not God really will provide. And finally Jesus is offered a shortcut to ruling over the world, which is rightfully His anyways. Of course Jesus is the Master, so it is no problem for Him - Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
God’s Affirmation: Mark 1:11 - And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
Shortcut: Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me
We know from Psalms 2:7-9 that Jesus was destined to inherit the nations and He wisely rejected the shortcut.
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron[b];
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
How can understanding this pattern of temptation help us? How have you see this in your own life / experience?