Was Jesus Tempted like Me?
I was struck with a thought while reading through Hebrews. When I came across this verse—For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.—I thought, “How could a 1st-century Jewish carpenter be tempted in all the same ways as a 21st-century American woman?”
We live worlds apart. Different cultures. Different challenges. Different opportunities for sin. It made me wonder, what is this about to teach me?
James wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
I have to admit, James muddied it up a bit more for me. If Jesus was tempted in all things as I am—but God cannot either tempt or be tempted—then what am I missing?
Do I need a clearer understanding of sin and temptation?Do we have a grasp on sin and temptation? Click To Tweet
In Romans 5:12, Paul tells us, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
Death entered the world through Adam’s sin. Adam’s Sin = Death.
Through Adam’s transgression, the entire human race received a fallen, broken, sinful nature. Adam’s Sin = Sinful Nature.
David understood this truth. In Psalm 51:5 he wrote, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
Paul taught this. In Romans 5:19 he wrote, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…”
A point to ponder.
Even though Eve sinned first, sin and death didn’t enter the world until Adam joined her.
I’m no theologian. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. I only mention it because there’s an interesting tradition in Judaism that a person’s Jewishness is passed down through their mother, not their father.
Though Jesus had no earthly father, he was still completely Jewish. If sin entering the world was credited to Eve—and passed from mother to child—then Jesus would have received a sinful nature from his mother.
But Adam’s Sin = Death & Sinful Nature, so—because Jesus had no earthly father—he did not receive the fallen sin nature that lives in each of us. He received the nature of his Heavenly Father.
The nature that is pure and holy. The nature that is completely incorruptible.
God can not tempt. God cannot be tempted. Another Juxtaposition.
This is why James says God does not tempt nor can he be tempted. It isn’t in his nature.
So what does Hebrews 4:15 mean? Many things, I’m sure. More than I’ll ever understand in one lifetime, but one thing that stands out to me is how it parallels Psalm 103:13-14.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
Jesus walked a mile in our shoes, so to speak. He saw and felt and experienced the ways we are constantly presented with opportunities to sin. He knows what temptation looks like.
He has compassion on us.Jesus walked a mile in our shoes. He has compassion for our weakness. #christianity #devotional Psalm 103:13-14 ? Hebrews 4:15 Click To Tweet
Is temptation the same as sin? No. If it were, James wouldn’t say, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”Temptation is the opportunity. The doorway. The fork in the road. It’s our inner desire that navigates the outcome. Click To Tweet
Opportunity vs. Outcome.
Opportunity effects each one of us. Opportunity to set our pride above God or to submit to His will. Opportunity to disobey or to be faithful. Opportunity to doubt God or to believe that what He says is true.
With Eve, Satan presented each one of these opportunities. He tempted her to disobey, he twisted her understanding of what God had told her, he appealed to her pride.
With Jesus, Satan tried the same strategy. But instead of succumbing to the temptation, Jesus withstood. His inward desire navigated him to obedience and submission to God’s will.
Eve’s inward desire (lust) carried her into sin. But though Jesus was presented with the opportunity to sin (temptation), he never allowed the temptation to bridge the divide from opportunity to inward desire and moral compromise. His nature was perfect.
Our Privilege = To be like Jesus.
As children of God, it’s our privilege and right to become more like Jesus every day.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29)
As we do, we know that because our High Priest understands our weakness, we can seek Him his help.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
We can be confident that He will provide us with rescue. A way out when we need it.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
And knowing that He has equipped us for the temptation battle, we can stand firm and fight.
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)If we remain obedient to Jesus, He will make us holy like His Father, which was His mission from the start. Click To Tweet
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
How does Hebrews 4:15 change how you approach Jesus? The word translated empathize is the Greek word sympatheō, which means to feel “sympathy” with, i.e. (by implication) to commiserate:—have compassion, be touched with a feeling of.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
16 thoughts on “Was Jesus Tempted like Me?”
I take comfort in the fact that Christ empathize we me when I am tempted to sin. I pray for His strength to help me resist always. Jesus understands and gives us His grace when we fall short. I am glad I do not serve a absent God that is far from me, but one that is always near and understanding.
As do I, Yvonne. I agree. To know he isn’t absent, to know that he is close…it’s so wonderful. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 34. I love how it talks about him being close when we call, saving us when we need him, and helping us when we are crushed. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+34&version=NASB
Temptation rears it’s ugliness in many ways. Comparison, food, money, things, etc. I am thankful God gives us grace and forgiveness. We are constantly learning.
Yes. So many ways and so constantly. Psalm 103 is such a great example of how he has compassion on us. Thank you for reading.
I like how you point out that even though Eve sinned first, sin and death didn’t enter the world until Adam joined her. I have never seen this point before, but it makes complete sense as you point out the Jewishness of Jesus and his true sinlessness coming from God the Father. Great insight! Love the scriptures you shared too!
Thanks, Marcie. I have to admit I never saw it either until working through this post. It hit me so hard. Isn’t it a fascinating point?
I love how you point out you’ll never understand the full meaning of these verses. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I won’t understand it all. And if I did, wouldn’t that make me all-knowing like God? I have also taken comfort and stood in awe of the fact that Jesus was tempted and resisted. What an amazing reminder as I go through my day being tempted by far less than He was! Thanks for your wisdom on this!
I love how Paul says he only understood dimly. If he felt he only understood dimly, how much darker must my understanding be? How amazing will it be when we get to Heaven and have all these areas illuminated with perfect understanding? Thanks for reading, Emily.
I love that we can approach Jesus and He is right there with us, even in all His holiness.
Yes, Heather. It is such a comforting reality.
It’s been a big comfort to me to know that Jesus also experienced the challenges I face. And I love your insight on sin passed through Adam–and our ethnicity–Jewishness at least–coming from our mother. Christ’s humanity came from his mother.
Thanks, Nancy. I’m also comforted knowing he experienced our day-to-day struggles. It’s even more comforting to know that he never once succumbed to temptation.
Thanks for sharing.
It’s an interesting thought and question if Jesus was tempted like we are. I understand sin more like a category than like something we can quantify.
In a way, it’s a big paradox why God let Jesus take on a human body. One could think that this would be below God’s standard.
God’s ways are sure different than our ways 🙂
Challenging thoughts, aren’t they? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to even begin to wrap my mind around these concepts. At least not until I stand face-to-face with Jesus. Thanks, Edna!
There is a lot to chew on here. I will be meditating on this word for the rest of the day, if not the week! I had never heard that before about their Jewish-ness passing from the mother. Very interesting, Thank you!
This is funny, Jennifer, (and a little embarrassing)…but the first place I heard about it was on The Nanny! From there I researched it. You can find a lot of articles written by Jewish rabbis on the subject (of course they have nothing to do with Jesus) but very interesting reading.
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