Last Sunday I described the nature of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) as broadly defined as the temptation to fail, the temptation of not having to live up to expectations. But it pays to look specifically at the nature of the temptations posed to Jesus, because they provide a pretty handy breakdown of the temptations that afflict our lives.
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” The first temptation is one of straight-up human need. It is the temptation of scarcity, the fear of not having enough for one’s own self. Jesus’ response is that God has provided for all of our needs already.
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…” The second temptation is that perhaps Jesus is not loved enough to be rescued from harm. It is the temptation of loneliness, abandonment, and the lack of self-worth. Jesus’ response is that he does not need proof of God’s love, but has confidence in it.
“All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” The third temptation is the one of easy pleasure, quick rewards, and pointless goals. Jesus’ response is that the life dedicated to God is the one of real value.
When we engage in the Lenten disciple of self-examination and conviction, it is good for us to understand what truly tempts us. Is it anxiety about our needs, love, or goals? And does Jesus’ own Scripture-quoting responses inspire us to seek God in our own answers to these temptations?
Yours in Christ,