For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
Matthew, chapter 4, tells us of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. In Hebrews, quoted above, we are assured that his temptation was as complete as ours, so that there is no temptation we will face with which he cannot sympathize. R. C. Sproul, comparing the temptation of the first Adam to that of Christ, the second Adam, demonstrates that Jesus was tempted under the most severe circumstances possible, circumstances far more severe than most of us will ever experience.
The two tests were of the same kind in some degrees, but in other ways, the terms of the temptation of Jesus differed radically from those that were imposed on Adam. Think first about the places where the two temptations took place. In the case of the first Adam, the temptation came while he and Eve were enjoying the pleasures of the garden of Eden, which we often refer to as Paradise. However, the place where the Spirit drove Jesus to be tempted could hardly be called Paradise. It was the desolate Judean wilderness, one of the most ominous and foreboding deserts anywhere in this world. It is said that the only inhabitants of the Judean wilderness are snakes and scorpions—even wildlife refuses to live in this place of desolation.
When Adam was exposed to the temptation of the Serpent, he was in the company of his wife, whom God had given to him by special creation to be his helpmate. Jesus, however, went into the wilderness in absolute solitude. It was the state of loneliness that received God’s first malediction at creation. After He created everything, He pronounced it good with a benediction (Gen. 1:31). The first thing He said was not good was Adam’s solitude. He said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (2:18). When we want to punish criminals or prisoners of war harshly, we send them into the state of solitary confinement, where they are cut off from ordinary human interaction and friendship. So it was with Jesus; He was driven into the wilderness to face temptation completely alone.
Furthermore, Adam was tempted in what could be described as a gourmet restaurant. In the lush environs of Eden, there were trees bearing all kinds of fruit that were wonderful to eat, and Adam and Eve were given the freedom to choose from any of those fruit-bearing trees to satisfy their hunger, with the single exception of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Jesus’ test came in the context of a forty-day fast in a harsh wilderness. So, while the first Adam was tested when his belly was full, the new Adam was tested when He was literally starving.
There is one more difference that I think needs to be mentioned. When Adam was tempted, there was no customary practice of sin. Sin was unknown before Adam and Eve committed it. But when Jesus was tested, there was nothing more commonplace in His world than the presence of sin. Why is that significant? One of the major factors that undermine our resolve to be righteous is that everyone around us sins. Therefore, we think it is no problem if we sin as well. Jesus had to act against the commonplace practice of human beings while He was undergoing these tests.
—R. C. Sproul, The Work of Christ (David C. Cook, 2012), 82–84.