Friday, August 19, 2011

Was Jesus ever tempted by the opposite sex?

by Perry Stone (Voice of Evangelism)

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15

When Christians visualize Christ's ministry, we see Him preaching to thousands, healing the sick, taking boat rides across the blue waters of Lake Tiberias, and eating dinner with His disciples. There are some images that never cross our mind. For example, can you image Jesus, in the middle of His message, winking at some single woman in the crowd? Or sitting down to eat in the home of a ministry partner, seeing a single daughter and, like a southern gentleman saying, "Hey there darling, what are you cooking tonight?"

Neither can we picture Christ sitting under a full moon overlooking the Sea of Galilee with His arm around a girlfriend He met in an evangelistic campaign, and suddenly kissing her. It just does not fit the mental images of anything we read about Christ in the Gospels. In fact, we assume He probably never even considered a woman in such a way.

However, in recent years, liberal researchers and scholars have challenged the Christ we know and love by assuming that He had a secret love life and was married to Mary Magdalene. Attacks have always been leveled against Christ. Some teach that He was a mere man with no Divinity; others say He was a good teacher—nothing more and nothing less. Others, such as Muslims, accept Him as a great prophet but deny Him as the Son of God. Some say He was the Gentile Messiah, but not a Messiah for the Jewish people. However, the new attacks, as presented in books and movies, deal more with Christ's morality on earth than with the historical narratives of His earthly ministry. recent years, liberal researchers and scholars have challenged the Christ we know and love by assuming that He had a secret love life

Several years ago, Dan Brown wrote a bestseller called, The DaVinci Code. The idea behind the book of fiction was based upon the famous Last Supper painting by Leonardo DaVinci. Allegedly, according to Brown, there was a "code" hidden within the painting, as one of the persons in the painting was allegedly a woman and not a man. The book claimed that Christ made no claims of divinity; that He had a secret lover named Mary Magdalene; and that it was Mary who was chosen to lead the church, as the church was originally goddess-oriented. Brown wrote that persecution from Peter sent Mary into exile in France, where she birthed a daughter that was of Christ's flesh and blood. He suggested that the Catholic Church knew the information but hid it to protect itself.

Brown's theory, which continues with the teaching of the Merovingian bloodline , the Knights Templar, and the Priory of Sion, have all been debunked by scholars years ago. Therefore I will not attempt to rehash what has already been refuted in past books and articles. However, the idea that Christ was married and had children is nowhere to be found in Scripture, and there is no indication of it in the earliest history of the church.

The reasons Christ would never marry

Could Christ have married a woman on earth? I believe that physically, the answer is yes; but spiritually, the answer is no. There were twelve men that Christ personally selected as His disciples (Matt. 10:1-5). Christ also had "secret followers;" namely Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 19:38-39). There were women who supported His ministry; we read of Joanna the wife of Herod's steward and Suzanna (Luke 8:3). There were also many women who followed Christ's ministry, including four different women with the name Mary: Mary his mother; Mary the mother of James and John; Mary from Magdalena (Matt. 27:57); and Mary the sister of Martha (Luke 10:38-39). There was one family that Christ appears to have been very close to, and that was Mary, Martha and Lazarus, who were two sisters and a brother (John 11)

While the Bible does not necessarily give the reader the details of how many of these women had husbands and how many were unmarried, Christ did have many dedicated followers who were women. But there is no indication or implication that He ever became physically attracted to any woman linked with His ministry. I believe there is a significant reason why.

Jesus was to begin a new family

Christ knew His purpose for coming to the earth. He was to be crucified, buried, and raised on the third day (Matt. 17:23). His mission from the foundation of the world was to shed His blood and initiate a new covenant of redemption for all mankind who would believe upon His name (Eph. 1:7; Col 1:14). This new covenant would also create a family of God (Eph. 3:14). In fact, God is the father, Christ is His Son, and the church is Christ's bride. Paul wrote to the church and used a marriage term when he penned

"For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2) NKJV

Presenting a chaste virgin to Christ was a phrase indicating that the church is a bride that will be presented to the bridegroom (Christ) in heaven, and Paul desired to present the church pure and faithful to its bridegroom. Even Christ called Himself the bridegroom (Matt. 9:15; Luke 5:35). John the Baptist even identified himself as a friend of the bridegroom, which was a person whom the bridegroom chose to stay in contact with the bride prior to the wedding supper (John 3:28-30). Paul spoke about the family of God in heaven and earth (Eph 3:15).

I am certain that Christ, knowing His destiny, never married for many reasons. First, it was not the will of His heavenly Father. Christ ascended to heaven at about the age of 33 to 34. If He were an earthly husband, He would be leaving His wife behind (Acts 1:3, 9). He knew that His "kingdom was not of this world" (John 18:36). If Christ would have married and had a child, can you image how the worship of Christ would have eventually been turned from Christ, to his wife, and His child, and eventually to anyone who descended from His bloodline? There would be great cathedrals and museums built to honor the family, and I am certain the children would have been viewed as part deity and part human by their followers.

Christ's "family" consisted of both men and women from every tribe and nation. This family will become the bride when they are presented at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven. The wedding gift will be the New Jerusalem:

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal." (Rev. 21:9-12- NKJV

Some teach that the church is not the bride; the New Jerusalem is the bride. John said the New Jerusalem was prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2). We must remember that Christ's throne will be in the center of the city and this will be the home of the saints. Thus the bride is living within the city.

Christ and Temptation

This brings us to the original question: was Jesus tempted by the opposite sex? First we must understand what temptation is. The word temptation, as used in the New Testament 15 times, means to put something to the test by solicitation or by provoking and pressuring it. According to the Bible, it is Satan who is the tempter (Matt. 4:3). We are also told that "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man" (James 1:13). I describe temptation as a pressure in the mind to draw you away from truth or into an action contrary to the will and the Word of God. The Bible indicates that no temptation can come to us unless it is common to man (1 Cor. 10:13). It is a fact that, because you live in a human body of flesh and blood, you will encounter some form of temptation.

All sin that is birthed out of temptation comes from either lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or pride of life (1 John 2:16). After Christ was baptized in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness to experience a season of temptation from Satan (Matt. 4:1-11). Notice that Satan struck Christ in these three areas: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life:

The Statement of Satan in the temptation

Command the stones to be made bread - Lust of the flesh
Cast yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple - Pride of life
Worship me and you I will give you the world's kingdoms - Lust of the eyes

It is not a sin to be tempted, for if it were a sin simply to be tempted, then Christ would have sinned during this temptation. The Bible teaches us that action must be taken on the thought of temptation. As James 1:14-15 says "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

Lust, when it is acted upon, causes a conception. It gives birth to sin. Christ conquered the temptation by resisting the adversary through the Word of God.

Could Jesus have Sinned

This theological question has been debated for some time. The answer is again, physically yes and spiritually no. Physically, Christ had the mind and the body of any normal man. He could have walked where His feet should not have walked, used His hands to do things that were forbidden by the law of God, and used His body to perform forbidden acts. Physically, Christ had the capability of sinning, and this explains why and how He can understand our infirmities and weakness. He walked in the same suit of flesh that we wear today. Christ had a body which could sin; but spiritually, Christ could not—or perhaps we should say, would not—have sinned.

Christ came not to do His will, but the will of the father (John 6:38). Christ's hatred for Satan's kingdom of darkness, and His resistance toward the powers of darkness, would have caused Him to resist the thought of sinning against God or against Himself. When Satan tempted Him, Christ began quoting Scripture that applied to that particular situation.

Satan's temptation - Christ's rebuttal - Scripture Christ used
Turn stones to bread -- Man lives only from the Word of God -- Deut 8:3
Cast yourself down -- You shall not tempt the Lord your God -- Deut 6:16
Bow and worship me -- You shall worship the Lord God only -- Deut 6:13

Christ's obedience to His heavenly Father can be seen in two major events in His life. The Old Testament prophets predicted that Messiah would be a king, setting up the headquarters of His global kingdom in Jerusalem (Psa. 47:2, 7; Zech 14:9, 16-17). On one occasion Christ's followers, along with a multitude of people, wanted to make him a king. Christ could have thought, "Since this is predicted by the prophets, why not follow through with it now?" However, He departed from the multitude to a private place, rejecting their offer. He knew that He would be King in the future, but He must first become the suffering Lamb and bring redemption (John 6:15). His kingship would be established at the end of the age (Rev. 19:11-16). Christ was more concerned about God's will than with His own popularity and potential as an earthly ruler.

The second example was in the Garden of Gethsemane. During a lonely time of intercession, Christ earnestly prayed until His sweat became as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). When the arresting officers arrived to lead Christ to an illegal trial, Peter sliced an ear off the high priest's servant (Luke 22:50-51). Christ informed Peter to stop his aggression, and told him that He (Christ) had the power to call more than twelve legions of angels and stop the entire process if He chose to do so (Matt. 26:53). Christ had asked the Father that, if it were possible, to allow this cup of suffering to pass. But if not, Christ would proceed with His predicted death (Matt. 26:1-2). Christ once again demonstrated His desire to do God's will.

If we move from the agony in the garden to the suffering on the cross, another view emerges, often overlooked by the casual reader. At the beginning of Christ's ministry, Satan personally challenged His position with God and demanded a sign from Him to prove that He really is the Son of God. Twice Satan said, "If you are the Son of God..." (Matt. 4:3, 6). About forty-two months passed and Christ was hanging on the cross between heaven and earth. The voices of men surrounding Him demanded a sign from Him that He is the Son of God. "If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross" (Matt. 27:40). They mocked Him saying that, if God was with Him and He was God's Son, then surely God would save Him now (Matt. 27:43). Christ had the authority at that moment to call the angelic deliverers to His rescue, but He chose not to fall to the temptation to prove to the people what He Himself already knew—that He was the Son of God!

Christ had all human emotions

When a believer experiences severe testing or trials, some have commented, "God cannot understand what I am dealing with. How can He know what I am going through? He is God; He can't experience this." According to Hebrews chapter four, Christ is our heavenly High Priest who is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb. 4:15). The Greek word infirmities is asthenia, and does not simply mean some form of physical sickness, but can allude to any moral, physical or spiritual weakness we experience. When the writer revealed that Christ was touched, this word is not the standard Greek word used in the New Testament for "touch" as found in 21 verses, which means "to attach to someone or to physically touch them." In Hebrews 4:15 the word touch is sumpatheo and it means "to have sympathy and compassion for someone!" The reason our heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, has sympathy for us is because He was also tempted in all points in the same manner as we are.

We know that Christ was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow and familiar with grief (Isa. 53:3). During His ministry, He became so angry at the abuse and merchandising at the temple, that He overthrew the money changers (Mark 11:15-17). When Christ arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, we read the shortest verse in the Bible that simply says, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Perhaps not because His friend had died, since Christ planned to resurrect him, but because there was such unbelief among His own friends, concerning Christ's ability to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11). We also read where Jesus "rejoiced in spirit," thanking God for revealing such deep spiritual truths to babes, while hiding them from the wise men of the world (Luke 10:21). There are several possible Greek words for rejoice in the New Testament, meaning to be cheerful or to be in celebration with a person on behalf of their blessing (Luke 1:58). When Jesus rejoiced in spirit (Luke 10:21), the Greek word is agalliao, and it means to be exceeding joyful to the point of jumping for joy!

I realize the average Christian might have difficulty believing that Christ ever became so happy that He leaped for joy. Years ago one minister rebuked me for encouraging people to worship with their hands raised (1 Tim. 2:8) or by clapping their hands (Psa. 47:1), or for allowing them to rejoice by praising out loud and dancing for joy (Psa. 149:3). With a rather sour expression on his face, this rigid minister commented, "Son, all of this physical expression in worship is wrong. I've read the New Testament hundreds of times and nowhere did Jesus act like that!" I thought for a moment and replied, "Sir, you are right...but everyone He touched and healed acted that way!" I reminded him of the lame man at the gate who, after being supernaturally healed, began "running and leaping and praising God" (Acts 3:8). A man born blind who receives his healing is not going to simply nod his head and say thank you in a timid voice.

It is clear that Christ experienced every human emotion that we, too, experience. Considering that Christ had all human emotion and feeling, this would indicate that He, too, was tempted with all manner of temptation, yet without sinning. This should be of great comfort to all believers. It is one thing to say, "Christ knows what it is like to become angry, sad and even lonely." There is deeper appreciation of Christ taking on the form of flesh, when we understand that He, too, was tempted while in His earthy body. The Bible only gives us the temptation of Christ at the beginning of His ministry. Yet, we know that many events were not recorded—so many that John said that, if all the words and works of Christ had been recorded, the world could not hold all the books (John 21:25).

Jesus and the Opposite Sex

I realize some would disagree with this comment; however, if Christ was tempted with all manner of temptation, He must have occasionally been tempted by the opposite sex. This does not imply that Christ lusted after women, as He warned against such activity:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matt. 5:27-28 (NKJV)

Every believer living on earth in this house of clay has an area of weakness that can be a trap door for the adversary to slip through. For some the struggle is with their attitude. Perhaps it is unforgiveness or bitterness, or greed, or fear. Any man can and will occasionally have a dart of temptation cross his mind. However, a thought is not a sin, as long as the thought is cast down before it is planted in the mind as a seed. Once the seeds are planted they will, under certain conditions, blossom into a plant and produce negative fruit.

The reason it becomes important for a believer to understand Christ's human nature and the fact that Satan sent fiery darts against Him, is because it causes us to know that Christ does understand the struggle of a flesh verses a spirit nature. Christ was the master over His flesh; He understands that the "spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41).

We should not get overly concerned with whether or not Christ was tempted with the opposite sex, because we know that He was "yet without sin." We should, however, rejoice that He does have compassion upon us when we are being tested and will make a way of escape, so that we can bear the test without falling.

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