Imagine the scene. After decades of life as a tradesman, with growing awareness of his true vocation, Jesus goes to the Jordan River to be baptized by his cousin. What relief! The heavens open, the Spirit descends, the voice of the Father validates his Son and his Son’s ministry.
Immediately, the same Spirit that descended gently like a dove throws the Son into the wilderness where he encounters Satan and wrestles with the depths of temptation. This trial will define his ministry.
Helmut Thielicke, a German theologian, first published this meditative study on the temptation of Jesus in 1938 in order to “strengthen the followers of Jesus Christ in their resistance to ideological tyranny” (v). The book was reissued in 1946 after the collapse of the Nazi regime. The book was most recently reissued in 2010 emphasizing the fact that the tempter works in every era.
If we are going to resist the tempter, we need to look to Jesus, the perfect human, who resisted temptation until the end. Thielicke approaches the temptation of Jesus with a keen understanding of anthropology and human weakness.
Between God and Satan is an excellent devotional book which will open up many avenues for understanding the significance of Jesus’ temptation.
—Helmut Thielicke, Between God and Satan Translated by C. C. Barber (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1958).