Satan Tempts Jesus - Bible Story Summary

When Satan Tempted Jesus in the Wilderness, Christ Resisted With Truth

Satan Tempts Jesus in the Wilderness
'Christ in the Wilderness', 1898, by Briton Riviere. Print Collector / Contributor / Getty Images

Scripture References

Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13

Satan Tempts Jesus in the Wilderness - Story Summary

After his baptism by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil. Jesus fasted there 40 days.

Satan said, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." (Luke 4:3, ESV) Jesus replied with Scripture, telling Satan man does not live by bread alone.

Then Satan took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, saying they were all under the Devil's control. He promised Jesus to give them to him, if Jesus would fall down and worship him.

Again Jesus quoted from the Bible: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." (Deuteronomy 6:13)

When Satan tempted Jesus a third time, he took him to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and dared him to throw himself down. The Devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, misusing the verses to imply that angels would protect Jesus.

Jesus came back with Deuteronomy 6:16: "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." (ESV)

Seeing that he could not defeat Jesus, the Satan left him. Then angels came and ministered to the Lord.

Points of Interest From the Wilderness Temptation of Jesus

  • Matthew and Luke list Satan's temptations in different order. Mark merely summarizes the event. The Gospel of John does not mention it at all.
  • Jesus' 40 days of fasting reminds us of the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the desert and the 40-day fasts of Moses and Elijah.
  • The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness, or the place of temptation, but it was not God's  Spirit that caused the temptation. Satan tempted Jesus. We cannot blame God for the temptations we face.
  • This was no small battle. God's will and the devil's will met in a terrible clash. Satan tried to ruin God's plan of salvation by getting Jesus to sin, because a sinful Messiah could not be a worthy sacrifice for mankind.  But Jesus was always able to see through the Devil's schemes, and he is much more powerful than Satan.
  • Jesus' three temptations correspond to temptations common to all of us today: the lust of the flesh (hunger of all types); the lust of the eyes or covetousness; and the pride of life, or lust for power.
  • It was no coincidence that Satan tempted Jesus immediately after his baptism. Many new believers experience similar testing right after salvation and baptism.
  • Because he was fully human, Jesus is able to sympathize with our struggles and give us the exact help we need to resist temptation.

Question for Reflection

When I am tempted, do I battle it with the truth of the Bible or do I try to defeat it with my own inadequate willpower? Jesus defeated Satan's attacks with a powerful stab of God's sword--the Word of Truth. We would do well to follow our Savior's example.

(Sources: and The ESV Study Bible, Lenski, R. C. H., The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel.)