Answer this: What does Jesus’ greatest temptation teach us about disciple making?

I love a good game of Bible trivia!

My father-in-law and I were bouncing questions back and forth. He asked me about the first mention of the word Sabbath. I asked him which of the Ten Commandments receives the most-robust explanation in Exodus 20 (stay tuned, both answers are at the end of the article).

Now, I’ve got one for you: When did the greatest temptation of Jesus take place?

If you answered, “In the wilderness,” you are right! This portion of Jesus’ life is presented in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. In both accounts, the Son of God, full of the Spirit of God, enters into the wilderness for 40 days, during which He is tempted in three primary ways. While much has been written about these temptations’ nature, let me challenge you to zoom out and look at the larger narrative. These temptations occur just before Jesus begins His public ministry.

In other words, the greatest (recorded) temptation we see in the life of the Lord Jesus was just before He began making and multiplying disciples.

Now, I refuse to give the enemy any more credit than what he is due. He certainly isn’t omniscient; he had no way of knowing — entirely — what was to come, and yet, it would seem that Satan had some sense that this was a ‘now or never’ moment. So, he throws everything he’s got at Jesus, offering him ‘all these things’ if our Lord would but lay aside His mission of making and multiplying disciples.

“Go away, Satan!” Jesus responds in Matthew 4:10, “For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

The enemy’s target has changed, but his tactics remain the same. What he did to Christ, he’s now doing to Christ’s people, trying to keep us from joining Jesus in His mission to make and multiply disciples. He’s still attempting to occupy us with ‘all these things’ that seem to be excellent on the surface. But anything that keeps us from doing the one thing commended to us by our Lord isn’t good at all.

At various points throughout my life and ministry, many like myself have settled for ‘all these things.’ Thankfully, the same Spirit that sustained Jesus in the wilderness and strengthened Him to say, ‘no’ supports us as well. We can join Jesus in His mission of making and multiplying disciples, but being confident will mean saying ‘no’ as He did to all these other things.

The key is Matthew 4:10. Here, we see that service (what we do) flows from worship (what we value). When we love and cherish Jesus above all else, His words shape our walk. So even when we’re tempted with ‘all these things,’ we can remain focused on the one thing we know matters most.

Friends, the enemy, attempted to discourage and distract Jesus from the mission of making disciples.

Many of you may be experiencing discouragement or distraction. Understand it’s the enemy seeking to stop you before you ever get started. He knows his dominion will be diminished when we start disciplining others, so he does everything in his power to prevent us from getting started.

Thankfully, Matthew 28 reminds us that All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ and Christ in us. Paul says in Colossians 1, is the hope of glory! This means that the enemy is — ultimately — powerless to prevent the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!

Let’s say ’no’ to anything and everything that the enemy may seek to use to keep us from doing the one thing Jesus says matters most: making and multiplying disciples!

Answers: 1) The first mention of Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23. 2) The commandment that receives the most-robust explanation is the command to observe/remember the Sabbath and keep it holy unto the Lord.

For more information, please contact the Discipleship team of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and schedule a consultation. You can also join the conversation on Facebook! For a look at our Church Strengthening team, visit:

Published March 1, 2021