The Temptation of Christ -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 10:1 (Summer 2001)
Article: The Temptation of Christ
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Temptation of Christ

David J. MacLeod

(Matthew 4:1–11)1

[Dave MacLeod is a member of the faculty of Emmaus Bible College and the Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.]


Two events in the Old Testament2 and one in the New Testament provide the background to understanding the account of the temptation of our Lord in Matthew. The first Old Testament story is that of Adam in Eden. It was Augustine, following the Apostle Paul, who said that the entire moral and spiritual history of the world revolves around two people, Adam and Christ.3 To Adam, called “son of God” in Luke 3:38, 4 was given the position of king of the

earth.5 He had a position to maintain, but he did not maintain it, and the plight of the world for centuries was decided. And then the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45, 47) appeared, and the second trial of the race arrived. All was at stake again. Again we were represented by a Champion, by One man who represented us all—whose standing would be the standing of many, and whose fall, if such a fall had been conceivable, would have been the fall of all.

The second Old Testament story is found in Deuteronomy 6–8.6 It concerns the nation of Israel, also called God’s “son” (Ex. 4:22). “Israel’s sonship was modeled on Adam’s, since God is the Creator-Father [of them both].”7 Following the exodus out of Egypt, called by Paul the nation’s “baptism” (1 Cor. 10:2), Israel spent forty years in the desert being tested by God. During that time they failed the test, grumbling about food (Ex. 16 [v. 12]), complaining about lack of water (Ex. 17:1–7), and worshipping an idol, a golden calf (Ex. 32). During that time they were exhorted to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all y...

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