If you fasted for forty days and had the power to turn rocks into bread, could you resist? If you could have all the power and prestige in the world by just bowing down to Satan, would you? If you had the ability to leap from building to building, what would stop you from showing off just a little? For forty days in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted in ways that none of us could even dream of. Yet, he did not fall to temptation and sin.
We continue our series on Jesus’ pattern for prayer, by looking at the petition, “Lead us not into temptation (Luke 11:4).”
This petition gets confusing, because elsewhere in Scripture it says God never tempts his children (James 1:13). Why then pray for God not to lead us into temptation? Surely God would not tempt us.
The Greek word that we often translate “temptation” literally means “to test”. While God himself will not tempt his children, he will let them be tested by their own evil desires (James 1:14). This petition admits our weakness to God and reaches out to someone who can help us not give into to those evil desires. The story of David and Goliath helps to illustrate this.
In the Book of 1 Samuel, the Philistines came out to fight the Israelites. The Philistines had a giant of a man named Goliath on their side. Goliath stepped out of the ranks and declared that he would fight any man. If he won, the Philistines would win the war. However, if he lost, the Israelites would win. The strategy makes sense. Instead of piling up dead bodies, let two men fight for all. Most of us know the story. Scrawny David accepts the challenge, defeats mighty Goliath, and Israel wins. In this account, David functions as a champion, someone who fights on behalf of another, in this case Israel. (1 Samuel 17)
Jesus functions as our champion. When Jesus defeated all the temptations of the Devil in the wilderness and ultimately when he died on the cross for us, he became the champion for all who repent and believe in him. When we pray not to be led into temptation, we ask Jesus to be our once and for all champion over sin.
Prayer: Lord, many temptations assail me daily. In moments of weakness, help me look to my Champion, Jesus Christ, for he won the war against sin once and for all for me. Amen.