Right after Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit led Him to the wilderness. There He could be alone to pray. He could think about the great work He must do in overcoming Satan so He could save the world from Satan’s control.
Satan once lived in heaven with God. At that time his name was Lucifer, and he held a high position in God’s government. After a while he decided that he did not need to obey God’s laws. He also urged some of the angels to join him in his rebellion. This is how sin began.
As a result, Satan and his followers were sent out of heaven. Satan hated God for this. He began his evil work with Adam and Eve, the first man and woman created to live on this earth. He tempted them to disobey God. He told them the opposite of what God had told them, and they believed him.
Ever since then, every person except Jesus has sinned. When Jesus went into the wilderness, Satan followed Him and decided to try his very best to make Jesus disobey God, too.
For forty days Jesus prayed. He didn’t even eat any food. He became very hungry, tired and weak. Satan knew this was the best time to tempt Jesus. There were many stones on the ground near Jesus. Some of them looked like loaves of bread. “If you are the Son of God,” Satan said, “command that these stones become bread.”
Jesus felt so hungry! He knew He had the power to change the stones into bread. But if He did this to prove He was God’s Son, it would show that He didn’t believe the voice He had heard at His baptism, “You are My beloved Son.”
“It is written,” Jesus answered, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” He trusted God to give Him food when the time came. He would not perform a miracle for His own comfort.
Satan next took Jesus to Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” Satan said again, “throw yourself down.” Then he quoted the Bible, too. “He shall give His angels charge concerning you. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Satan was trying to trick Jesus by repeating a Bible promise.
“It is written again,” Jesus replied, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Satan had failed so far. But he was going to try once more to get Jesus to obey him. This time he took Jesus to the top of a very high mountain. He showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. There, spread out in the sunshine, were lush fields and vineyards, rich forests, and gleaming cities. How beautiful it must have looked in contrast to the barren wilderness!
“All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me,” Satan promised.
Jesus knew that His special work was to break Satan’s power over this world. He knew there would be people who would hate Him. He knew He would eventually be put to death. To bow down and worship Satan for just a moment would be an easy way to gain the world. But this would not be following God’s plan.
Jesus did not hesitate. “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Satan obeyed the command and left. Even though he had succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve, Satan now knew that he could not make Jesus disobey God. Jesus had refused to believe Satan. He kept His strong belief in His Father’s words. Jesus had proved that a man could resist Satan and keep from sinning. Jesus could now save the world from Satan’s power.
After Satan went away, Jesus fell to the ground completely exhausted. Angels came from heaven to revive Him with food and words of comfort.
Jesus returned to Galilee, ready to teach the people how to resist Satan. He began to preach the same message John preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” His exciting work, as Savior of the world, had begun!