A Reflection on Christ’s temptations
4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
After the Lord’s Baptism the Holy Spirit lead him to the wilderness for 40 days to fast and to be tempted. During this time I would imagine Jesus spend much of His time praying and communing with His heavenly Father. For He knew the trials that were to come; Jesus knew that Satan himself was coming for Him. Not only that, but Satan was coming when Jesus was at His weakest; famished from hunger, weak from exhaustion, and mentally strained from the fast. But Jesus knew that if He was to save humanity, He would have to share their temptations to sin and overcome them with virtue. Sins vs virtues….a battle as old as time itself.
First, Satan questions Jesus’s divinity; “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Satan was tempting Jesus with selfish passions, such as:
Pride-To turn the stones to bread would be to misuse His divine power and put God as a beck-and-call servant rather than the ruler of creation. Jesus instead shows humility, the greatest of all virtues, by doing his Father’s will and not His own human will.
Gluttony- Jesus would have craved bread at this point. To eat the bread would be to break the fast, and thus show that the fast was unimportant when faced with suffering. Instead Jesus shows temperance, knowing that God his heavenly Father will take care of Him in the long run.
In the end Jesus submits to His Father’s perfect will, rebuking Satan with Scripture:
Next Satan attack’s Jesus’s relation with His heavenly Father. It is this temptation that most mimics the first temptation of Adam and Eve; “Did God really say that?” Satan wants Jesus to again make His Father His servant, challenging God to catch Him when he falls. In this Satan tempts Jesus with:
Pride- If you sense a theme here you are correct. Satan wants Jesus to be God’s master and not the other way around. Jesus knows better and again responds with humility.
Envy- By challenging Jesus to prove both His and His Father’s divinity, Satan is trying to provoke envy and thus discord between the Father and His Son. However Jesus however knows that nothing can break His eternal bond with His heavenly Father, not even death. He doesn’t need to prove it to Satan now as He will indeed prove it on the hill of Golgotha.
Jesus again rebukes Satan with Scripture:
Lastly Satan tries to appeal to Jesus’s ego. All the world is Satan’s to give to whomever he chooses; all you need to do is acknowledge him as god. In this way Satan tempts Jesus with:
Pride- Again with the pride! In this case Satan is taunting Jesus to take the easy way out….almost as if to say “You don’t need to redeem mankind thru a cross. I’ll give them to you freely if you worship me and not your Father.” However Jesus knows His Father’s perfect will is His purpose on Earth. Nether the Father nor the Son will be denied.
Anger- It must have fustrated Jesus greatly seeing all the world in Satan’s thrall. But Jesus didn’t give in; He knows that patience is the key. In time the captives would be set free and Satan’s earthly kingdom will be broken. The battle of sins vs. virtues will be won.
Lust- Rulers of kingdoms can have whatever – or whomever – they want. Both Jesus and Satan know this. Jesus turns lust away with an attitude of chastity, knowing that human beings are to be loved, not to be used and treated as property.
Sloth- The easy way out, as noted previously, would have bypassed the cross and saved Jesus much suffering. But there can be no Resurrection without the cross, and without the cross and the Resurrection there can be no true redemption for humanity. Thus Jesus practices dillegence and waits for the cross to come in time. In this battle of sins vs virtues, Jesus was in for the long haul.
Jesus rebukes Satan one more time with Scripture:
So what can we learn from this? First, know that Satan can be defeated with fasting, prayer, and Scripture. We all face temptation, dear reader. It is part of our identities as humans. Secondly, know that Jesus shared our temptations to sin and overcame them one by one. It should come as great solace knowing that Jesus shared what we live thru daily. Lastly, know that Jesus did not fail in His mission. He and the Father are truly one; with Him in our corner we need not fear Satan nor his temptations. Remember these things in this Lenten season of sins vs virtues. God Bless!