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How could Jesus be tempted like us?

Was Jesus REALLY human?


Thanks for your question!

This question is very perceptive and gets to the heart of one of the most important doctrinal issues in Christianity:the nature of Christ and the reality of his temptations. I have few thoughts to share with you about this.

Hebrews 2:14; cf Hebrews 9:26 [2:14 He partook of our nature so that by his death he could destroy the devil; 9:26 by his death he put away sin - same as "devil" or "destroy sin in the flesh" Romans 8:3. He had to have our exact nature for his sacrifice and example to be meaningful.

Hebrews 4:11-16 - tempted in ALL points as we are but without sin. However difficult it seems that Jesus could have been fully human and yet resist all temptation, that's what the word says he did. cf 1 Peter 1:19. If Jesus is not human then this passage is not true. If Jesus was God, what value is there in saying he was sinless? Of course he would be. What value would there be in his example if he is God? If he is God, how dare he say, take up your cross and follow me? He would have had all of the advantages in overcoming sin which we don't - it would have been a foregone conclusion in his case. Talk about making the word of God of none effect by their [i.e. the Trinitarians and the "pre-existence"-ists] traditions! [see Matt 15:6]

If Jesus is God, in what sense could his "temptations" have been real? In what sense could Hebrews 5:7,8 be true if he were God? This passage alone should be enough to blow the notion of the trinity right out of the water. The usual response is: It's a mystery. That just doesn't fly - See Micah 3:7; Coloss. 1:26; Rev. 17:5.

James 1:13-15 Temptation is not sin. Allowing temptation to develop into sinful thought and action is sin. Jesus NEVER allowed temptation to go that far. He dealt with it by the word of God. See Psalms 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee." Jesus' temptation in the wilderness was a marvellous illustration of how his mind worked. He answered each temptation with a Biblical quote but not just a "memorized verse", the quotes were marvellously in context. He understood exactly why he was being tried. For example: he was starving and came the temptation: "Make these stones bread" - His quotation is from Deuteronomy 8:3 but look at the context - Deut 8:1-6:

1 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. 2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. 3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. 4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. 5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

The 40 years of Israel in the wilderness, in Jesus mind, would have been translated into his "40 days" in the wilderness as he applied these words to himself. What a grasp of scripture, to take the experience of Israel in the wilderness and apply them directly to his own experience! That's what we are called upon to do too. "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee."

Finally, look at Hebrews 12:1-6. Jesus is the "founder" or "pioneer" as the KJV puts it. the word means one who leads by example. He has "cut forward a way" or "hammered out" as a blacksmith forging metal[meaning of word "increased" in Luke 2:53] and in his battle against sin "resisted unto blood". The example is there for us to follow. The compassion and help is there for us whenever we need it [Hebrews 4:16]. It is no wonder that Heb. 12:4 says, with not a little irony: "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

Far from making us wonder if Jesus could have resisted temptation and sin if he had been a real human being - knowing what we know of our own weakness and sinfulness - we should, in awe-struck thanksgiving, be made supremely conscious of what he went through for our sakes. The cross was an end-point in a process that sucked every last ounce of his strength. When he said "It is finished" it was a sigh of relief. He didn't do it on his own; he received his strength from his Father - just as we can; that's part of his example to us. See Philippians 2:12,13 – our life in Christ is a partnership not a one-man show – not us alone and not God through Christ doing everything for us.

Which of us have the conviction and passion to remain all night in prayer and to be in such an agony in prayer that we sweat blood!? He was wholly a human being. But what a man! Could youhave done what he did;could anyone else have done it? No. The man who sets a world record in the marathon is a paragon of fitness and developed athletic talent. He is perfect in his sport. Could you do that? No. Can you achieve something akin to it, although far from the worldrecord of the "perfect" athlete? Sure you can. How? Do what he did. Train as he trained. Focus as he did. That's what Christ asks us to do [see 1 Cor. 9:24-27]. The Lord Jesus Christ is our "coach." He has run the raceand triumphed. He will lead us in triumph too if we will but follow him and "train" according to his program. 1 Cor. 15:57. We will never bet perfect, but he will make us good enough, if we let him, by his grace and in the reliance upon his strength, to be on the gold medal team!

If you want to come to grips with what the Bible really teaches, why not take the free online Bible study course available on our website, http://www.thisisyourbible.com? This course will give you a background in the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. As with everything we offer, there is no cost to you other than your time and effort. You will also have a personal tutor to whom you may pose questions either from the course itself or those questions which come to you as you read the Bible.

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless!
Mike
www.thisisyourbible.com
 
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