The Temptations of Jesus
- Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into 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.'" 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.'" 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.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Testing in the Desert
For forty years, the Old Testament people of God wandered through the desert before reaching the Promised Land. According to the Book of Deuteronomy, these forty years were a time of testing and temptation (Deut.8:2-5). Moses spent forty days on the mountain (Ex.24:18). The wilderness and the number forty evoke key moments in the history of Israel which the Son of God now relives and draws to
a successful conclusion.
The temptation scene is a picture of the whole of Jesus’ life and affirms his commitment to his Father’s will right down to the end. While the Gospel of Mark contents itself with saying that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Mk.1:12), both Luke (4:1-15) and Matthew (4:1-11) give some detail on the type of temptations that Jesus endured.
As Son of God, Jesus had special powers for his messianic mission. They were not for his own gratification. The first temptation enticed him to use them for his own purposes. Jesus’ response is that he lives for the father and trusts in him.
Trust in God can be misused too and so the tempter takes him to the pinnacle of the temple. There is a false trust which attempts to manipulate God for ones own purposes and trade on his care. It was an attempt to blackmail God. "All right, I trust you, save me if I jump."
The final temptation is to replace God with a creature. In human experience, the idolisation of things brings an endless litany of suffering and despair. Here again Jesus is emphatic. Only God can command our total loyalty.
Perhaps the last temptation of Christ took place in the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane when the choice was between his life and the path marked out for him by the Father and he said "not what I will but
what thou wilt” (Mk. 14:36).
This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists
Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries