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.”’
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.
I’ve always found this passage interesting because we hear how Jesus had well formed and quick responses to the Devil, but I have always wondered if it really was that clear cut? I don’t want to debate whether the Devil is real or not, or where people might stand in regard to spiritual attacks because I suspect that they would be debates that would surpass the length of this reflection. What I want to focus on, is temptation.
Let’s be honest, even those with the most iron wills, have faced temptation in life. As children, teenagers, young adults and older adults we have been tempted to do things that we shouldn’t; to take short-cuts that if discovered, cause us more problems than they have solved; to eat, drink, imbibe things that we know are not good for us, or even do us harm; yet we still fall for temptation.
Jesus didn’t fall for the temptations, but if it were really as easy as it is sometimes made to sound, would it really have been much of a tempting? I suspect that all of these temptations would have been things that Jesus would have wrestled with, they may have been things that Jesus had to go back and forth on before giving his final answers and overcoming the temptations.
That’s the crux of it, if the things that tempt us were easy to ignore, they wouldn’t be the things that tempt us, but the reason we are tempted is because we have a weakness for those things. I doubt that any of us will ever face temptation to the level of Jesus, which is a good thing, but struggling and wrestling with temptation is part of the faith journey, what we should aim for is leaning on God when we are tempted and following the example of Jesus, but also remember that we are not Jesus and we are not always going overcome temptation and that is also part of life and that is why we continue to strive to follow Jesus.
God of life and living, We face temptations in life more often than we would be prepared to admit. Help us as we try to live as Jesus’ followers on the Way to stand firm against temptation. Enable us to become stronger day by day to overcome the tests and trials that enter our lives. Create in us compassionate hearts towards ourselves and others when we and they are tempted and fail to resist. Amen.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker, Coventry, West Midlands