“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”
Luke 4:13 ESV
Through the Bible: Matthew 4, Luke 4-5
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record that Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Mark’s gospel doesn’t give the details. The temptation account is less than one verse: “he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him” (Mark 1:13).
Matthew and Luke’s accounts are similar in that they each specify three temptations. Luke has them in a different order than Matthew, but that’s a minor detail that doesn’t really matter to the story. But Luke does have one detail that Matthew doesn’t. Luke notes that “after the devil ended every temptation, he departed from Jesus “until an opportune time.”
In other words, there will be more temptations to come.
While the Bible doesn’t specifically record another encounter between the devil and Jesus, we can easily imagine him lurking in the shadows in every scene. Whispering. Accusing. Distracting. Derailing.
The devil doesn’t quit. Even when he knows he can’t have your soul, he will still fight to get everything else from you. Your attention. Your time. Your priorities. So it’s crucial to realize that his tempting of Jesus did not end on the pinnacle of the Temple.
Because that’s what he does. Jesus even points him out to his disciples every so often. After the seventy-two return from their preaching mission, He tells them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning” (Luke 10:18). When Peter tries to assure Jesus that something as horrible as crucifixion would never happen to Him, Jesus immediately saw who was pulling the strings: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). And, in the Upper Room, Jesus lets Peter in on a side conversation Satan had been having with Him: “Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that you will not fall. And that when you return, you will strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).
It makes sense that Peter, then, is the one who warns us: “Be sober minded, be alert: your adversary the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8).
It is crucial for you as a believer to know yourself well enough to know when the “opportune times” in your own life are. When are you most susceptible to temptation? When you are tired? When you are stressed? When you are at odds with your spouse? When you are around friends from your life before Christ? You can’t avoid every situation, but you can be on your guard when those situations arise. Remember that the devil is a coward. If you resist him, he will flee from you (James 4:7). But he never stays gone for long.
Beloved, the devil is looking for an opportune time with you today. We can be thankful that Jesus, our great high priest, was tempted like us in every way, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). He understands. He can relate. And through Him, we can overcome!