Matthew 4: 1-11
Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
Jesus knew he had enormous challenges to meet, so he had spent time preparing - the same length of time as Lent. He fasted, and it looks as if he studied scripure as it's fresh in his mind, and reflected on what his mission really was.
It's the human nature of Jesus that we see being tested here, and during Lent, we need to be reminded of his humanity so we can truly understand what it was he was taking on. The fact that he also had a divine nature did not protect him from human suffering, temptation and from agonising over decisions trying to do the right thing.
The way he responds to the temptations the devil puts in front of him shows what he is actually called to be - or rather, what he isn't called to be.
Jesus hasn't come into the world to be a magician, turning rocks into bread to satisfy his own hunger, and he knows that meeting our physical needs is not enough.The miracles he works are not stunts to be performed on demand. He won't use his miraculous power to save himself and turn from his mission to save us instead.
The devil tries to get Jesus to test God himself. If we test God, we are not trusting him. One of the thieves crucified with Jesus says something similar to him – if you're the son of God, get him to save you. Bby then, Jesus has already had that conversation in the garden of Gethsemane, when he tells God he knows he can step in if he chooses and take this suffering from him, but he trusts that God’s will for him should be done.
In the final test, the devil offers power and riches in return for worshipping him, but Jesus was not called to be an earthly king of power and wealth - the devil just doesn't get it. And Jesus won't even consider the idea that anyone other than God is to be worshipped.
It's a comfort to us to know that even Jesus was tempted, that he struggled and that he needed to work out exactly what he was called to do.
We are human and vulnerable, and life is full of temptations and troubles. Lent is a time for us to strengthen our spirit, to learn more about what’s really in our hearts, and to ask for help in setting things right. It’s a time to listen and let God guide us to the path he has prepared for us. It's a time to increase our faith, and strengthen our trust that whenever life seems difficult and it's a struggle to do the right thing, God and his angels are there to guide and comfort us.
Salesian Communications Worker
You know my weaknesses and yet you love me as a father.
Help me to look into my heart and soul this Lent.
Let your Holy Spirit show me what I need to do
to be the person you created me to be.
Guide my decisions.
Let me show compassion and generosity to those in need.
Let me show your love in how I deal with those close to me.
Keep me strong in faith and trust.