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February 18, 2024|Tempted|Mark 1:9-15

JD Cutler

Click here for the sermon audio

We have been in a season of examining the Gospel of Mark to see what it reveals about our Lord Jesus Christ, so that prayerfully, as his followers we can get a clearer picture of who he is, and that so that if there is anyone here that is not sure of who he is, they might learn the truth about him from the Scriptures. 

For instance we have looked at the…

Revelation of Jesus at his baptism- that he is the beloved son in whom the Father is pleased. That he identified with sinful humanity as he stood in our place beginning at his baptism. 

Revelation of Jesus at his transfiguration- that he is the only begotten son, who possesses glory as the express image of God, both fully God and fully man.  

This morning we look at the temptation of Jesus and what it reveals about who he is. 

This is not the first time we have looked at the temptation of Jesus. Last February we examined Matthew’s account and learned that Jesus was actually tempted, that he was fully tempted, and that he was unsuccessfully tempted. If you are new to our congregation I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that sermon on our website, which deals much more with the temptation itself as well as some of the implications of it. This morning, we are going to look at it from a little different angle, zooming out from the account itself and considering what the event itself teaches us about Jesus Christ, who he is, and what he accomplished. 

Open your Bibles to Mark 1 at verse 9. We have previously covered verses 9-11 and verses 14 and 15 in other sermons, but for context we have included those this morning. Our focus is going to be on Mark’s very brief account of the temptation of Jesus in verses 12 and 13. 

Let’s read those together now. 

Mark 1:9-15 (ESV) 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

All three synoptic gospel writers place this event after his baptism and before the start of his public ministry. 

Each one includes slightly different details depending on their purposes and so we will be drawing from all three this morning to get a better view of this event. 

The first thing that I want to share with you this morning that Jesus’ temptation reveals about him is that…

Jesus is the greater Adam. 

You may have heard that terminology before and wondered what it means. Let’s dig into it and see if we can better understand it. 

First, let us set the scene for the temptation.

At his Baptism he is declared the beloved son and the Spirit descends on him where it rests. 

It is not hard to see the parallels between this and the story of the creation of Adam. God forms him from the ground and then breathes life into him and creates life in him, to be in fellowship with God, to obey God’s will in caring for the garden, and to reflect the image of his creator. 

Here Christ stands, symbolically buried in the water, raised up and indwelt by the Spirit of God, ordained to be in fellowship with God, to obey God’s will, and to be a perfect reflection of His Father, God incarnate. 

Not that he became that in the baptism, as some false teachers teach, but that he already was, the Baptism being a picture of the reality that already existed. A testimony to his divinity and his mission. 

Furthermore, as God had placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, we see now that God is the one who ordains this testing. 

Notice that Mark says in verse 12, The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. The word he uses is much stronger than Mattthew or Luke. Literally he says the Spirit forced him out into the wilderness. Make no mistake, although Satan is the tempter, God ordained the situation that allowed it. 

So here we are Christ, like Adam, placed in a situation where he has the opportunity to either hold fast to God and his word or to follow temptation into rebellion and sin. 

Let us turn our attention to the setting of the temptation. 

Mark says he was, in the wilderness, forty days, with the wild animals. 

Every line telling us just how isolated he was. 

The word wilderness means a desolate place, it is the same word we discussed in the account of Jesus going early in the morning into a desolate place to pray.

Some of the words associated with it are ‘solitary, lonely, desolate, uninhabited’.

Mark merely tells us he was in the wilderness for forty days, but by looking at the complementary accounts, we find that during this time he was fasting. Matthew 4:2 (ESV) 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And Luke 4:1-2 (ESV) 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

Mark alone adds this detail, that is assumed by the other writers, he was with the wild animals. Further illustrating that he was isolated from not only civilization, but was immersed in the wilderness. 

Now contrast that with the setting of Adam’s temptation.

In the garden- the perfect pre fall Garden of Eden, with an abundance of food, what we would call the easy life. The ground not yet cursed and living off of it being as natural and easy for Adam as breathing. 

Not fasting, but feasting on all that God had to offer from his creation. 

Not with wild animals, isolated from men, but with Eve, his perfect help-meet and with animals unstained by the fall, named by Adam, seemingly in perfect harmony with him. 

Could there be a more dramatic contrast between settings?

Garden vs Desolate place, Perfect relationship vs Alone, Perfect provision vs fasting for 40 days.

Adam was given everything he needed to resist temptation. Paradise on earth, a perfect help-meet, all the food he could eat, purpose, fellowship. 

Jesus was given everything seemingly to increase his temptation. Desolate place, alone, starving. 

And yet, where Adam failed and gave in to temptation, we know that Christ conquered it. 

What is interesting to think about is that as far as I understand the Bible, these two men were the only ones in all of history that have legitimately faced temptation without a sinful nature. That is they were free from an inherent and natural inclination to sin. They had the free will to choose either good or evil. 

That is, what the Apostle James says in his letter about temptation being born of sinful desires was not true of either Adam or Christ. Here stands the two men faced with temptation external to themselves. 

Look at the record of Eve’s (and Adam’s) temptation.

Satan calls into question what God has said and his motives for saying what he said. This is the woman’s response to his words. 

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (bread), and that it was a delight to the eyes (see all these kingdoms), and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (jump), she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

How similarly is our Lord tempted. From Matthew and Luke we find that Satan tempted Jesus in this moment with three things. 

Turn stones into bread- that is, take for yourself food (saw the tree was good for food.)

Showing him all the kingdoms and promises him that he would give them to him if he would worship him- that is, look at all of this, it could be yours, (saw that it was a delight to the eyes)

Taking him to the pinnacle of the temple and encouraging him to jump to prove the Father’s love and care for him- that is, prove that God loves you, gain a concrete and absolute knowledge of what you hold in Faith. (saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise)

This is Satan’s MO. He uses the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life to tempt us to turn away from God and to ourselves. 

But, where we find that Adam and Eve failed and ate of the fruit, we find Jesus standing firm in his faith and trust in his Father. He will not operate outside of the Father’s will, not to satisfy his flesh, not to accomplish his mission, and not to prove God’s love for him. 

Where men fail, Jesus succeeded. He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. He is the perfect, blemishless lamb of God, and it is in this temptation account we are reminded that this Jesus did what we could not and lived a perfect sinless life of obedience, which makes his voluntary and substitutionary death for us possible. This is the greatest truth we can see from this account, we can have faith in the sacrifice of Jesus because he was the sinless and perfect sacrifice. 

The lesson is not ‘resist temptation like Jesus’, it is behold the spotless lamb, spotless, not because he was not tempted to sin but because he was victorious over it! Amen?!

This is exactly what Paul is referring to in Romans 5 when he contrasts Adam, who he says was a type, or figure, of the one who was to come. That is Jesus is the real Adam, the better Adam. Listen to what he says. 

Romans 5:12-21 (ESV) 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. He continues in verse 18. 

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 

In Adam’s failure he brought death and condemnation to all men, in Christ’s victory as the greater Adam, he leads us to justification and life. We know that the fullness of that was secured for us in the atoning death of Christ, but the reality was when Christ conquered this temptation, he set himself on the path that would lead to his sinless death on that cross.

In the temptation Jesus is revealed as the greater Adam. And even though that alone is a beautiful revelation of Christ, it does not stop there. The second thing that the temptation of Jesus reveals about himself is that… 

Jesus is the true Israel. 

If the situation and event of his temptation teach us about his role as the better Adam, his responses to the temptation teach us about his role as true Israel, the true Son of God.

That one might not be as readily apparent, let me walk you through why I believe this is what Jesus is doing here. 

We agree that Jesus could have responded to Satan in any number of ways. 

Jesus is able to command demons out with a word, he is able to calm seas with a word, he is able to raise the dead with a word, he could have just, from the beginning dismissed Satan with a word. Right?

Moreover, Jesus had a wealth of scripture to draw from in rebuking Satan’s temptations if he merely wanted to be an example to us in combating Satan’s lies with God’s truth, but in all three instances, Jesus quotes from a very specific place in Scripture. Specifically Deuteronomy, twice from chapter 6 and once from chapter 8. 

Whenever someone quotes the Old Testament in the New, it is assumed that the hearers would consider the context of the Old Testament passage and not just the isolated quote. Oftentimes, Peter as well as Paul quotes a small portion to remind their listeners or readers of the context of the whole passage. 

So what is happening in Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8?

First, Deuteronomy as a whole is a retelling by Moses of the teachings and events of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Deuteronomy literally means ‘Second law’. It includes an extended review of the Ten Commandments (4:44–5:33) and Moses’ farewell address to a new generation of Israelites as they stand ready to take possession of the Promised Land. Moses reminds them of God’s faithfulness and love, but also of God’s wrath on the previous generation of Israelites because of their rebellion. Repeatedly he charges Israel to keep the Law. Deuteronomy is a solemn call to love and obey the one true God. There are blessings for faithfulness and curses for unfaithfulness. The book closes with the selection of Joshua as Israel’s new leader and the death of Moses.

This is God, through Moses, reminding them of their obligations and responsibilities as his people prior to entering the promised land. This is an important book in the establishment of God’s people as a nation of obedient followers. 

Specifically in chapters 6-8, God reminds the people to not forget whose they are when they come into the promised land and that they should worship him alone, he reminds them not to put him to the test as they had done in the wilderness, and that the care he showed them in providing manna was so that they would know that physical food is not what sustains them but it is God who sustains. 

It was a reminder to worship God alone, to trust in God alone, and to trust in his provision and ways. 

What follows in the Hebrew scriptures is that after God through Joshua delivered them into the promised land they failed in everyone of these aspects. From Judges to Malachi, the universal condition displayed is one of failure. Failure to worship God alone, failure to trust in him, and failure to obey him, each one doing what was right in his own eyes. The nation of Israel failed to follow God. Now there were periods that they would return to God, only to shortly abandon him again. This pattern repeats itself over and over again. 

So when Satan tempts Jesus he responds from this corporate book on identity given to the nation of Israel by God through Moses. 

What’s even more interesting is the picture that the gospels paint for us leading up to this moment. Matthew tells us that after Christ was born and the wise men had come to visit him, this interaction happened. 

Matthew 2:13-15 (ESV) 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Quoting Hosea 11:1-2 (ESV) 1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 The more they were called,

the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.

Matthew attributes these words where God says he called Israel out of Egypt as his son, to being fulfilled in their fullest sense, in Christ.

Paul further develops this understanding in his letter to the Corinthians. 

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (ESV) 1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink.

Paul says that the passing through the parted sea was a kind of baptism into Moses, that is as God’s chosen prophet who led them, who would deliver the law to them, they are joined with him.

In the New Testament, Jesus comes to John to be baptized in the Jordan, in which Paul later says we are baptized into Jesus. That is to say, Jesus is the greater Moses. But more than that, Jesus represents here everyone that was in Moses, the Israelites, the nation of Israel as they came out of Egypt, as they passed through the waters. So what happened next to the Israelites?They immediately went into the wilderness of Shur where for three days there was no water. What do they do? They begin to grumble against Moses for bringing them out. The Bible says that God tested them. That is he put them in a situation to see if they would trust him and hold fast to him or if they would rebel against him. 

Then after he leads them to an oasis and supplies their needs, they set out again into the wilderness of Sin, where there is no food, and now they lament that they had ever been delivered from Egypt. 

So the Lord rains down bread for them, he gives them manna. He tells them to gather it for six days, but do not go out on the seventh, for it is a sabbath. Yet, the people go out, again rebelling against God. And again they set out but find no water, so they grumble against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt. About three months after delivering them from Eqypt, God brings them to his holy mountain, where they promise to obey everything the Lord says they do, and yet as we have noted, they fail time and time again. 

So here Christ stands, having been called out of Egypt, having passed through the baptismal waters, and now in the wilderness with no food or water. What will he do?

Does he grumble, as the Israelites do? Will he doubt God? Will he rebel against Him?

No, no, and no. As the true Israel, the true Son of God, he perfectly holds fast to God in the midst of the wilderness temptations. 

Where the nation of Israel was tested and proven to be fickle, sinful, and rebellious men, Christ was tested and proven to be faithful, sinless, and obedient. 

Paul goes on to say in Romans that not all natural born Israelites are Israelites. But true Israelites are those Jews that remain or gentiles that have been grafted in. Grafted into what, shortly later he says the one body of Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. 

Christ is the true Israel, in whom we are brought into by faith in Him because of the great grace of God. 

So not only is Christ shown here to be the greater Adam, in that through Him righteousness and life is made available to those who inherited death from Adam, he is the True Israel, the true son of God, in whom we are joined with by faith as co-heirs with Christ. But the implications of this go even further. 

In his temptation he is not only revealed as the greater Adam, he is not only revealed as the True Israel, it is revealed that…

Jesus is the great High Priest. 

We see this not so much in the event of the temptation, but the application of it, made for us by the author of Hebrews. 

The author of Hebrews argues that Jesus is greater. 

Jesus is greater than Moses. 

Jesus is a greater high priest than the Levitical priesthood. 

Jesus is the greater high priest of a better covenant.

Jesus is the greater sacrifice for sins.

There is a lot to unpack in Hebrews, but let us keep our focus on what he says about our high priest Jesus. Turn with me to Hebrews 2 verse 17. 

Hebrews 2:17-18 (ESV) 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Because Jesus suffered when tempted, that is, since he was actually and really tempted, and yet resisted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. 

Here is the point. You are not going to encounter temptation greater than what Christ encountered. He has been to the very edge of temptation, as far as it could go and resisted. 

As one commentator said well, who knows the energy exerted in a tug of war, the ones who give in or the ones who hold on?

Who knows better the weight, one who tries to lift it over his head and fails or the one who succeeds?

In every instance, the weight of a thing is only truly felt when it has been overcome. Having overcome the devil’s temptation, at his weakest physical point, isolated and alone, Jesus knows full well the weight of it, better than we ever could. 

Why does this matter?

Because that temptation that you are facing, that temptation that you think is too strong to be resisted, Jesus understands that. Jesus knows what it is like to face that and not only endure the suffering of it, but to emerge victorious. Who else could you go to for help when you are being tempted?

The author goes on in chapter 4 to say.

Hebrews 4:14 - 5:3 (ESV) 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.

Because he has in every respect been tempted as we are, yet without sin, he can sympathize with our weakness. That is in our weakness, Christ can look on us compassionately because he knows what we are going through. But because he did not fail, because he did not sin, we know that he has ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of God, and because of that, those who are his can draw near to him to find compassion not condemnation when they need help. Mercy and grace the bible says. 

Jesus was surely tempted more than what is recorded for us here in the gospels, but this event summarizes it plainly for us. Jesus was tempted and was victorious over temptation, he faced it and emerged without sin.

Because of this he is both the perfect sacrifice and the great high priest of the better covenant. 


The temptation of Jesus reveals many things about our savior. 

He is the greater Adam, in which we can be reborn free from the enslavement of sin and death. 

He is the true Israel, in which we are grafted in and experience fellowship with the Father through the Son. 

He is the great High Priest, in which we are brought before God in the covenant of grace, established by his own blood, and mediated by his own person. He now sits at the right hand of the Father and those who are his, in their own darkest hours, their own temptations, can come boldly to the throne of grace, not boldly because we deserve to be there, not because of who we are, but because of who we find there. Our compassionate High Priest, who not only sympathizes with our weaknesses but has made provision for our sins. 

This Jesus who we see tempted is the same Jesus that currently sits at the right hand of the Father. We believe that in him is forgiveness, reconciliation, and life to all those who come to him in faith. Amen?

Whether you have been a Christian for a short time or for a lifetime, temptation is hard. Whether God places us in situations of testing where we endure temptation or we are facing the temptation of our own sinful flesh, the choice is always between trusting Him and trusting ourselves. 

May you be encouraged to turn to the author and finisher of our faith, the one who was tempted as we are and yet was without sin. 

Let us pray. 


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