“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”(Luke 4:1-4)
Not your usual temptations – at least not presented in this way. But think of it this way, beloved reader? What have YOU been tempted to do in order to get food and drink, shelter and clothing, the daily necessities of life? Have you cut corners? Glossed over details and expectations that you should have paid attention to? Turned a blind idea to what you know was wrong in order to get something you wanted? If so, you have been presented with temptation as Jesus had. How did you do in resisting?
“Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” (Verses 5 – 8)
What have you seen in this life that you wish was yours? What wealth and possession have you seen others have, and think to yourself “I would do anything to make that mine.” This is a common temptation, I am guessing, in our current society. There are the “haves” and the “have nots”, and the divide between them is getting bigger and bigger. Is there a limit to one might do in order to be one of the “haves”? If have been tempted to cross that limit, you have been presented with temptation as Jesus had. How did you do in resisting?
“Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Verses 8 – 12)
We all know daredevils, those people who risk safety for a thrill. Or those who watch scary movies. Or watch very questionable entertainment. Or in some other way jeopardize their health and/or safety. Is that you, beloved reader? Do you make such choices in your life? Not silly or foolish ones, or fun ones, or anything goofy. But truly dangerous choices to own self – your body, spirit or soul? If this is a temptation for you, you have been presented with temptation as Jesus had. How did you do in resisting?
I have read this passage multiple times, but this is the first time I thought about in this way. I had always thought the temptations that the devil presented to Jesus were unique only to Jesus. But I see now that in our world there are parallel temptations to what temptations were presented to Jesus. This passage ends by saying . . .
“When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Verse 13)
But I am pretty sure there was no other “opportune time.” However, the advantage of writing at least a week ahead has given me the chance to think more about this. The devil may not have come back to tempt Jesus directly, but to arrange situations where Jesus was tested in other ways through the people around him. We read about incidents and situations that Jesus was forced to proof himself or take a stand on something. This too can be temptation and testing.
I also think, beloved reader, the devil comes to us “opportune time” after time. That evil one keeps trying to tempt us, at times beyond our ability to resist. Jesus resisted, said no with such authority that the devil never returned to him. I am not sure we always have such authority, in and of ourselves. We can though, use the strength of Jesus Christ.
So if our strength fails, as invariably it will, we can come to God and Jesus Christ – confess our sins, do penance for the temptation we have given into, and receive forgiveness. This cycle of confession, penance, and forgiveness – it permeates our lives, whether or not it is a focus of our thinking.
Now, this year we are looking at it closely. And during the season of Lent it is appropriate for these meditations and ponderings. But temptation does not confine itself to one year or one season. Neither does God and Jesus Christ’s forgiveness of us. Selah!