The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Then, God's Spirit led Jesus into the back country, so the devil could test him. Jesus lived on little food for forty days. After that, Jesus was very hungry.

The devil came to tempt Jesus. "If you're really God's Son, just say the word. And these stones will turn into bread," the devil told Jesus.

"The Bible says: 'People need more than bread to really live. They need every word God speaks!'" Jesus replied.

Next, the devil took Jesus into Jerusalem and stood him on the top of the Temple. "If you're really God's Son, jump," the devil challenged Jesus. "The Bible says: 'God will command his angels to take care of you.' It also says: 'His angels will take you by their hands so you won't even stub your toe as you land.'"

"The Bible also says, 'All of you! Do not test your God!'" Jesus replied.

Finally, the devil took him onto to a very high mountain top. The devil showed him the riches and power of every country on earth. "I will give you all this, if you fall on your knees and worship me," the devil told Jesus.

"Go away, Satan!" Jesus replied. "The Bible says, 'Worship the Lord your God! Only serve him!"

The devil left Jesus. Then God's angels came to take care of him.

Based on Matthew 4:1-11

When Jesus was baptized, God the Father revealed Jesus was the Messiah. The Spirit came down and stayed on Jesus. And, the Father said, "This is the Son I love. I am pleased with him!"

Then, God's Spirit lead Jesus into the back country to answer a question. What sort of Messiah was Jesus? At the time, people had different expectations for the Messiah. Some wanted a care-giver, someone who would take care of their needs. Some wanted a high priest who would take control of the Temple and restore a pure worship to the faithful. Some wanted a king who would lead a great army to set up a great empire for Israel. These were the kind of leaders that the people wanted. What did God want?

When the devil tempted Jesus, he presented these popular images to Jesus: one who would change stones into bread so the people could be fed, one who would show great power at the Temple so the people would follow this new high priest, and one who would have all the power of the world at his finger tips, like a great ruler for the people to follow. Jesus said "No" to these images. They were the expectations of people. Jesus wanted something greater. He wanted to know the will of his Father.

Jesus was "tempted in every imaginable way, but he did not sin." (Based on Hebrews 4:15) He allowed himself to be tempted to show us how to say "No!" to evil and "Yes" to God.

We Can Say "No" To Temptation

It is hard to reject temptation. Temptation makes evil attractive. It tricks us into thinking we can possessions, popularity, and power for ourselves. And we can have all this NOW! Temptation makes selfishness seem right.

The strong attraction we have to evil is called "Original Sin." It is the universal temptation to focus only on the self and take the "easy way out." People throughout time have felt this attraction at some time or another. It has been passed from generation to generation. It is part of our human nature.

Original Sin began at the Fall, when Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil and disobeyed God. Actually, the devil (called "Satan") wanted the first people to be like him. The devil was an angel who was close to God at first; then he rejected his Maker. So, he convinced Adam and Eve that they could have God's powers. Like the devil, they rejected the close relationship they had with God. When Adam and Eve said "No" to God, they found it easier to say "Yes" to temptation. Because it was easier to give into temptation, it was easier to sin. From that point on, people endured the results of evil: ignorance, suffering, and death.

Jesus came to restore the relationship people had with God. He showed us the way when he said "No" to the devil by saying "Yes" to God. He also gives us the power in the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit strengthens us to place our focus on God, not on ourselves alone. By example of Jesus and with the Spirit, we can reject temptation. We can remain close to God.

Saying "Yes" to God Can Be A Habit

Accepting God's grace means rejecting temptation. Saying "Yes" to God can become a habit. Lent is the perfect time to strengthen this habit. During Lent, we focus on God in prayer, the needs of others with our charity, and away from our selfish wants with fasting. In this way, we can act like Jesus. We can say "No" to temptation and seek the will of God.