Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Countless movies, works of art, and hours of scholarship have been poured into depicting and dissecting this passage of scripture. It seems that more attention is given to this passage than many others. Why? Admittedly, it is a dramatic scene between two powers in the world. The essential incarnation of all that is good vs. the great tempter. The Kingdom of God vs. Satan and his kingdom. Except this is no fair fight and is a preview of Satan’s ultimate and forthcoming defeat in the end. If you read the words above you know that Jesus confronts Satan’s various temptations (power, prestige, wealth) by quoting scripture just like he does when he is confronted by the Pharisees, Sadducees et. al. later in Matthew’s gospel. This scripture is certainly interesting in and of itself and we will explore it Sunday but there is something else here to think about as well.
We have just started the 40 days of Lent and here comes a passage about temptation. It is no accident that Lent covers the same amount of time as Jesus’ temptation. You have taken the step to fast from something in order that you might break patterns of complacency and hear God more clearly. Certainly the great tempter does not like this. Certainly we will all be tempted this Lenten season. Lent is our own time in the wilderness where we are tempted with all the worldly things we could want but are called to lean on God’s Word for sustainment.
Blessings for the journey,