On a day like this several questions bug our minds. We have waterproof, bulletproof, airproof, soundproof e.t.c., do we have temptation proof? If not what is temptation? Why must we be tempted? Who brings temptation; God or Satan? Must Christ be tempted? What are we to do in the face of temptation? A temptation is a test/trial, challenge, trick, a deception or a lie. It conceals the truth and presents falsehood to us as the truth thereof inciting our desires and promising us much more than it offers. A temptation may even offer us something good but entices us to use it in a false and selfish way. No wonder that temptations come from the devil, which is called the father of lies.
Today we are presented with the temptations of Jesus. two forms of temptations. Surprisingly these temptations are directed to the two beginnings of our ancestral origins: Adam in the Old order/Testament and Jesus in the New order/Testament. This puts another mind boggling question whether temptation has something to do with ‘beginning’ of life and human existence. We also see today that the temptations both of the Old Adam and the New Adam here referring to Christ have a common base but yield opposite result. The devil tempts Jesus with comfort, inviting him to provide bread for himself from the stones. He also tempts Jesus with easy success, urging him to throw himself down from the temple and everybody would admire him. Also he tempts Jesus with power; offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus would give himself over to the devil. And Jesus resists them all. Also in the case of Adam, by the promise of being like God as presented by the devil he would automatically become admirable by all, powerful than all creatures (like God as promised by the devil) and all kingdoms of the earth will become his. The Old Adam was a failure/vanquished and the New Adam/Jesus was a success/victorious in the end.
Temptation is not a pamperer! It rather hits you at your most inconvenient spot! It is merciless. It comes through your best desires in life. Its ready to sacrifice everything to have its way. In each of these three temptations what the devil is saying to Jesus is, “Come on, use what you have to get what you want.” And in each case Jesus overcomes the temptation by replying, “No, we can only use godly means to satisfy our God-given needs or to pursue our goals in life.” Jesus shows us that we should never trade off our faith in God or our moral principles to obtain anything in this world, because faithfulness to God is more precious than anything in this world. To the question “Why was Jesus tempted by the devil yet he is the Son of God?” Jesus was tempted by the devil because he was also a human being, fully human like the rest of us, though unwounded by sin.
Today Jesus first demonstrated His power over evil when He defeated the devil and the diabolical temptations after His forty days in the desert. The Lord’s Prayer has enough response to the allurement of the devil in Jesus reply. Thus Jesus would seek His bread from God, not from the world; and He taught us also to pray to God for our daily bread. Not that there is anything evil about being hungry and wanting to eat, but the temptation lies in seeing such satisfactions as the purpose of his vocation and the point of God’s kingdom. Also, Jesus would seek the will of God and not impose His will upon His Father. And He taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” Hence He would not jump from the parapet of the Temple as an attempt to force the Father into action. And He taught us to pray, “Thy will be done.” Hence in the third temptation, Jesus would not be bribed with all the riches of the world, all the Kingdoms of the world, given to Him for rebelling against the Father.
Like Christ, we all are tempted to sin. That is part of life. But we can fight against sin. We can defeat temptation. In some ways we all experience each of the temptations that the devil put before the Lord. The devil wanted Jesus to trust in His own power, rather than the Father. He wanted him to change rocks into bread. We also are tempted to trust in ourselves instead of trust in God. When pride over takes us we are thereby defeated by the devil because tend to trust in ourselves much more than in God. The Americans rugged individualism and self assertion training can sometimes lead to absolute dependence on the self and forgetfulness of God. Unlike Jesus’ temptation today, we are tempted to force God into action not just by jumping from a building and expecting God to save us but challenging God to save us from the pit of alcoholism, sex, drugs, etc. Though we trust in God but as Jesus told the devil, we don’t put God to a test. We have to resist the temptation to live life on the edge of eternal death through these bad habits especially this Lenten season. Also one can make a lot of money selling expired or sub standard drugs, contraband, substandard industrial products, cheating our way in business but these are other means of claiming the kingdom of the world by bowing to the Satan. Why not reject these today and be saved!
At his victory after the temptation, Jesus proved himself capable of his ministry. Temptation is like a furnace that purifies us and makes us pure enough to worth being children of God. It is a mark of victory, a process of purification and Christian certificate. Imagine the joy that comes when we become victorious in the face of temptation. Most times we are moved to go for thanksgiving in the church. On the contrary imagine the disappointment we experience when we are defeated by temptation. Like Adam and Eve we are always ashamed of ourselves. Remember the iron ore is so raw and weak until it is converted to steel through heat at 3600 degree. It is only at such conversion through heat that we can have a strong and lasting form of iron (steel) for constructing bridges which the ordinary iron cannot do. Remember just like temptation attacked our forefathers of both New and Old Testaments at their very beginning, your faith is never known nor assured if not yet tried by temptation. It is only at our persistence till the end that victory can be ours and like Christ the angels would come to minister to us. May the grace of the Lord accompany you to overcome temptation this Lenten season Amen.
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