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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2015

The Second Temptation: "A Leap of Faith"

A model of what the Jerusalem temple looked
like in the days of Jesus. 

In Matthew chapter three, after Jesus was baptized, God announced from heaven that Jesus is His Son. Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. In the second temptation that Satan used against Jesus after 40 days of fasting, he appealed to Jesus’ pride. He took Jesus into Jerusalem and dared Him to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple in order to see if God would save Him and to prove He is the Son of God, as God had said at His baptism.

The “pinnacle of the temple” was probably not the actual roof of the temple. Scholars are not sure where it would have been, but many believe that it was probably a part of the temple called Solomon’s Porch, which overlooked the Kidron Valley. The drop was probably at least 450 feet (over a football field in height) in the time of Christ—a height that would almost certainly kill a man.

Satan had learned his lesson from the first temptation, when Jesus used Scripture to respond to him. He knew if he wanted to trap Jesus, and get Him to do his will, he would have to also use Scripture. In this case, Satan used Scripture to try to cause Jesus to be reckless and to tempt God to step in and save Him. As was the case in the other two temptations, Jesus relied on Scripture, specifically Deuteronomy, to combat Satan. In so doing, He proved that Satan was misusing Scripture.

A Model of Solomon's Porch

We can learn a lot about Jesus’ handling of this temptation. We know that God will take care of those who love Him and His kingdom and who try to do right (Matthew 6:25-33), but that does not mean He is our servant. He does not run around behind us cleaning up the messes we make in our lives from our own reckless behavior or laziness.

We can also learn from this temptation that sometimes people claim that certain teachings are from God. They will sometimes even use Scripture to try to prove those teachings, just like Satan did. But Jesus’ example shows us that just using Scripture is not enough. We have to know our Bibles, and know them well enough that we are sure to use them properly (2 Timothy 2:15). Otherwise, we might be guilty of twisting the Scriptures to our “own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16)!




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