Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak! (Matthew 26:41 [NLT])
Think about boating on Lake Erie or the Mediterranean Sea. The day begins with sun, calm seas, and a small breeze. You and a friend decide it’s a beautiful day to take the sailboat out on the water. You raise the sails to get out of port. As you laze on deck with sails furled in the middle of the lake or sea, a wind arises that makes your boat rock furiously from starboard to port. Unfurling the sails will only cause you to catch too much wind and cause your boat to toss and turn at the storm’s mercy. A large ocean-going vessel comes to your starboard offering ropes to moor your boat to their ship’s side away from the wind. What should you do? Accept the offer or take your chances to ride out the storm?
Jesus knew about storms. He knew what caused humanity to stumble, when we face temptations and act upon them. These temptations when acted upon lead us to sin. Each person alive has sinned. It’s part of the curse when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of which God told them not to eat. Jesus knew from where sin came. He addressed it immediately after his baptism by John in the Jordan River.
As Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and You bring Me great joy.” The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan for forty days. (Mark 1:10-13a [NLT])
Jesus understood humanity had great difficulty facing temptations. He faced temptations immediately after John baptized Him. Jesus faced temptations like any human does throughout His life. At any point in His three-year ministry, He could have said He wasn’t the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Christ, or the Messiah, then the Jewish religious leaders He wouldn’t have challenged Him daily. Jesus could have said He was just a man whom God called to be a prophet. That’s what the people thought He must be.
Jesus faced the temptation to back down from the challenges presented by the people and the challenges presented by Satan. He willingly walked the path set before Him. Why? So, sin would be defeated and Jesus would have victory over death-eternal death, which is separation from God. Jesus faced and overcame temptation so that as sinless Man, He could give power over temptation and sin to every person who believes in Him as their Savior and Lord. In the desert, Jesus was hungry. It would have been wonderful to enjoy a full stomach and so turn the stone into bread. But He didn’t do it. It would have been a relief if the angels of God’s kingdom carried Him from the heights while tempted by Satan. But He didn’t ask for their help.
Jesus faced the temptations to sin as a man and as the Son of God so He could give strength to people and enable them to overcome temptations without sinning. Our temptations do not differ from anyone else’s temptations. The foremost thought we have is to put our own selves first instead of seeking God and His will. Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 10:13. He said, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” [NLT] When you face temptations, God is there ready to help you overcome them. In overcoming temptations, you must battle, not ignore them These battles strengthen you if you rely on the strength of God to get through the temptation and not to sin. If you rely on your own strength, you do not grow, but become prideful, another sin. This is key to overcoming power. We must rely on God to overcome by going through the struggle against temptation. Only God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Only He knows how to get through and become stronger.
Jesus chose to go through temptations instead of avoiding them. Avoiding them would not have made Him the conqueror. Facing temptations and overcoming them makes conquerors of people who believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ choice to face temptation, stand up to it, and overcome it, gives His followers His power to do the same thing. Consider what Paul wrote in Romans 8:31b-39.
Jesus, because of His and the Father’s great love for us, came to earth to live as a man, to face temptation just as a man, and to overcome temptation because He is God. He died and rose to life again to give us, each believer in Him as Lord and Savior, power over sin and death. Jesus did not turn away from temptation but chose to go through it to prove He is the Son of God. By this, He gives us power to overcome and grow through our times of temptation. No wonder Jesus challenged His inner circle of Peter, James, and John when He repeatedly found them asleep as He was praying for strength to face, battle, and overcome His biggest challenge, the challenge to save our souls and make a way for us to be righteous and be in a relationship with God. With these words, these three disciples heard Jesus’ challenge, and He recognized their weakness. “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 [NLT]) These three men wanted to be faithful disciples of Jesus, but they were unable to face the temptation to sleep instead of keeping watch-praying.
We can overcome temptations and weaknesses and become stronger because of it. Jesus said that strength comes from God through prayer. Acknowledge your weakness. Ask God for His strength to walk with you through the temptation and to grow you as you walk with Him through it. Then pray with thanksgiving praising God for the strength He gave you and the growth He caused because you walked with Him instead of falling asleep or walking in your own strength at the time of trial.
Consider the sail boat tossed furiously by the sudden storm. Consider yourself in that storm-tossed boat when a large steady ocean-going vessel offers you mooring ropes by which to secure your boat to the calmer side of that ship. Jesus is like that large ship. He provides His strength for you to hold on to while facing your temptations, your storms. With His strength and guidance, you can get through the storm and to your destination with little injury than if you faced the storm by yourself. You will be able to face another day and be wiser because of it. After having gone through that storm with Jesus, you will be able to help someone else face their temptations. Those temptations have made you more than a conqueror. You have become a stronger Christian in your prayer, thought, and physical life.
We are more than conquerors.
Through Christ Jesus, who loves us.
Only with Jesus will we get through a temptation, conquer it, and become more than we were before the temptation. We are more than conquerors because of Jesus.
Lord, I have faced temptations. I have failed at times, too. I hate going through hard times. You, Lord, chose to face temptations because of Your love for me. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to do that, but You did it anyway. You loved me before You even knew me. Lord, I am undeserving of Your love. Make me more like You. Forgive me of my sins and wanting to live life my way. Help me not to shrug away battles and temptations because I am afraid, but to seek You by prayer and walk with You through them. Help me grow to be more like You, for You, Lord, are almighty. You are all-knowing. You chose to come to the world to die for my and other people’s sins because You love us. Thank you, Lord. Make me more like You. Mold me into Your image for Your purposes and glory. Amen.