Able To Be Tempted: Part Three

In our previous discussion [1] we examined some scriptures that discussed the fact that Jesus Christ was able to be tempted, and today we will examine the two more verses within the same passage that straightforwardly describe how Jesus Christ was tempted as we are, yet without sin.  The reference cited earlier was Hebrews 2:14 and 17, but we will cite the passage from verses fourteen through eighteen:  “ Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.  Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”  

Let us note what is being said in this particular passage.  First, we note that Jesus’ taking of human flesh was done in order to serve mankind by destroying Satan, who had the power of death, and setting mankind free from the bondage of fear to death.  This freedom from bondage is described quite differently in the Bible than it is most of the time in religions.  It is generally, and falsely, assumed, that mankind is already free from the bondage to death because of the possession of some sort of immortal soul.  Yet this verse plainly separates human beings and angels as a result of the question of morality.  Human beings live and die, while angels are possessed of immortality (although not divinity), which is why Jesus Christ does not give aid to angels, because they do not need aid from the bondage to death, seeing as they do not die.  Human religions have all kinds of ideas about the sort of bondage that human beings suffer, including some religions that focus on the imaginary bondage of reincarnation from which they desire escape through oblivion, and others that assume mankind possesses an immortal soul and simply needs to end up in the right place after death.  Here, though, we clearly see that the bondage human beings suffer that Jesus Christ came to save was the bondage to death and of the fear of death that makes life so unpleasant for so many, or even the fear of life and the burden of guilt and suffering that makes death seem like an escape from an intolerable life, as is the case for so many.

In order to deliver mankind from death, Jesus Christ took on mortal form, as we have seen, and suffered the penalty of death despite being blameless.  Yet again we should note that this aspect of temptation is being viewed as external.  In this passage we see Jesus manfully doing battle with and vanquishing Satan.  By being able to handle the external temptation of Satan’s blandishments to do evil, Jesus Christ was able to undo the curse that mankind had fallen into as a result of sinning in the Garden of Eden.  There are at least some implications of this that we will draw out in more detail later but which are worth discussing at present.  For one, the fact that Jesus’ temptation was all external rather than internal suggests that his nature was undivided (unlike that of humanity) and that the empathy that Jesus Christ gained for humanity related to human frailty and the conditions that we are under as a result of being frail and temporary beings.  As Jesus Christ was not led internally to sin, there is no empathy or understanding for that fallen aspect of human nature, which is simply supposed to be overcome rather than indulged by God.  The compassion of Jesus Christ for humanity is deep and profound, but limited by His sinless perfection, which gives him sympathy for us but not an empathy that comes from sharing the fallen aspects of humanity that have separated us all from God.  Likewise, the external nature of temptation makes Jesus’ rejection of Satan’s temptations in the wilderness a reenactment of the scene from the Garden of Eden with a different outcome, showing the triumph of Christ over Satan and his fitness and legitimacy for removing the earth from Satan’s temporary control.

We will discuss the nature of this parallel between Adam’s failure and Jesus’ success as the second Adam in much greater detail in another section of this study, but for the present it is important for us to note that it is precisely this element of Jesus’ time on earth that made it necessary for Jesus to be able to be tempted.  If Jesus could not have felt tempted externally, if he had remained remote and impenetrable from the external appeal of sin, He could not have sacrificed His life on our behalf to save us from the burden of sin and death and fear.  In Jesus Christ’s success against Satan’s temptation in the wilderness we see the triumph of God’s nature over the deceptions and temptations of Satan.  Yet Adam and Eve fell because they did not have God’s nature, but only an innocent human nature that was no defense against the subtle trickery of the devil.  While there was no chance that Jesus Christ would fail against Satan, there still had to be a contest between them that was fair.  Indeed, the contest was slanted as far as it could be against Jesus Christ, which is what made His victory all the more decisive, because it was not rigged in His favor, but rather was dependent on the triumph of His godly nature over human frailty, which is what allows Him to come to our aid, because He knows the frailty of our nature and the fact that only having God within us can we overcome our weaknesses as He did.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Able To Be Tempted: Part Three

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To The Una Natura Project | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: The Nature Of Jesus Christ As High Priest | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The Temptation Of Christ (Heathen Edition) | Edge Induced Cohesion

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