Christ's Own Choices and Ours

man praying

When the Savior had finished his 40-day fast and communion with His Father, Satan was waiting with worldly temptations to distract Him from the spiritual strength of this sacred experience. In this encounter, Christ made His own choices, and in doing so He taught us to make ours and prepared Himself to support us as we do.

The Savior’s Choices

With the taunting “if thou be the son of God,” Satan began with one of his regular tools, physical needs and comfort: “command that these stones be made bread.” Even Satan’s lowest minions knew Christ was the son of God, but the tempter was challenging Him to prove it by relieving His hunger. Satan might have thought he was off to a good start.

Recognizing the real temptation, Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’” Though at a physical low, the Savior was at an incredible spiritual high. He chose to live by every word of His Father.

Satan tried again. From a high tower of the temple, he again mocked, “If  thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Satan also knew some writings. His own choice was to turn the words into a temptation for pride (another of his favorite tools). Christ was above such things: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

One last try: Power never faileth. From the top of a high mountain, Satan could show Christ all the kingdoms of the world: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Jesus knew who he was and what His mission would be: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” Christ had made and declared His own choices. The tempter slunk away defeated.

Our Own Choices

As in all things, the Savior has been the supreme example—in His lifetime and in ours. As Paul taught in Hebrews 2:18, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”

Effortless Dependence

As President of Brigham Young University, Jeffrey Holland warned the students in 1982, in his address “The Inconvenient Messiah,” that all of these temptations involved avoiding effort: obtaining bread with a verbal command, attracting disciples with a flamboyant stunt, gaining power with the power of evil. He spoke of the “demands of discipline and discipleship, of the responsibilities we have to face when we choose to follow Jesus Christ.”

In the Savior’s life and in ours, Satan counters such discipline with temptations of an easier way, with an offer of “convenient Christianity.” It is a temptation Jesus resisted, and so must we. Life was very inconvenient for him, and, unless I miss my guess, it will often be so for you and for me when we take upon us his name.

Thirty-four years later, as an international Christian leader and acclaimed author, Jeffrey Holland was still encouraging, “So keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever.2  We must keep up positive efforts in our own choices.

Like the Savior, we are offered conveniences requiring no more than a word or few. On the internet we are offered an infinite variety of worldly conveniences and products, as well as necessities, if we type a few words into a browser. This convenience, like eating bread, is not bad in itself. But when we allow order-shopping to take over our thinking and our behavior, our own choices take us away from the Savior’s example: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Worldly conveniences and products must not distract us from our own choices to live by God’s words.

Artificial Pride

Pride is still one of the tempter’s favorite tools. The stunt of jumping off the temple to gain attention and acclaim was easily dismissed by Jesus. Having followers gained that way would have been totally artificial, as would the sense of pride that might go with it. Again He dismissed the temptation with a scripture: “Thou shalt not tempt  the Lord thy God.” Neither Jesus nor His Father could be tempted by edifice leaping.

2/24/2023 6:14:17 AM
Brad Wilcox
About Brad Wilcox
Brad Wilcox has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, New Zealand, and Spain; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader's Digest. He once served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the globe. He and his wife Debi have four children and nine grandchildren.