Weaving together the threads that make up my passion for the written word…as an author, editor, and follower of The Word.
This is really interesting passage—the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil; a deliberate test for Jesus. Though God has foreknowledge that Jesus will pass, he still must go through the steps. One thing it shows us is that God is in control…even of the Devil. God had to allow the tempting, and it wasn’t without an important purpose.
His first temptation was hunger—something that we as human beings can relate to. Hunger can lead people to do a lot of things they wouldn’t normally do. Even those who are fortunate enough to not suffer from a lack of food can hunger for other things. Power, prestige, possessions, love, friendship, respect…the list goes on. Some of them aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. Certainly wanting bread when you are hungry is not a bad thing. As long as you aren’t willing to sell your soul for it, which is pretty much what the devil wanted from Jesus. But Jesus didn’t fall for it, reminding the devil, and us, that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” No matter what we hunger for, nothing is more important than our integrity, and our relationship with God.
The devil tempted him again, this time trying to get Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, knowing that the angels would be sent to save him. I think what he was really trying to get Jesus to do was exercise the divine privilege that he had set aside in order to come to us in human form. He was trying to divert Jesus from his plan…the plan that would ultimately save us.
Finally, the devil tempted him by showing him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Basically, he was giving Jesus an out—he wouldn’t have to go through the plan that God had set in motion, he could avoid all the difficulty and pain, and the ultimate suffering of taking on our sin and God’s wrath. Satan would relinquish his hold on the entire Creation. The catch? Satan wanted the one thing he had hungered for from the very beginning, the same thing that had caused his fall. He wanted to be adored and worshipped. He wanted to be like God. Ironically the same desire that Satan tempted Adam and Eve with, only they failed the test, as all of us would have. Jesus didn’t. His testing complete, the devil left Jesus and the angels came to minister to him. Through this story, Jesus not only sets an example for us to follow, he also shows himself to be free of the sin that we have not been able to free ourselves from since the beginning.
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