“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry”(Luke 4:1-2). Then the devil came…
As Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast, “Hunger is a good discipline and you learn from it; but you can work something out”(pg 71). Silence and hunger, in this case fasting, focused Our Lord. He spent those hours in solitude and prayer; reciting Psalms, contemplating scripture passages, talking directly with God and in the silence listening to what He had to say. It is not surprising that the devil visits our Lord at a time when He is most vulnerable, more susceptible to suggestion and sin. In chess parlance, the game was down to three moves and each one the Lord moved the devil into the corner.
“If you are the son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “One does not live on bread alone.” [Check!]
A simple move really. Appeal to his physical sense of hunger. True sustenance and satisfaction comes from scripture, prayer, and the faith community. I hear an echo of Jesus at the last supper with His disciples when He reminded them, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life”(John 6:27). The Eucharist endures and sustains us.
Standing on the crest of a hill Satan shows him all the kingdoms of the world, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” [Check!]
Power. Glory. At what price? Humble and faithful service to God has endured over two thousand years while princes and principalities have come and gone in the blink of an eye.
Standing on the parapet of the temple, the devil snarled, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus replied, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” [Checkmate!]
The audacity to test God quoting scripture on sacred ground of the temple. The last straw was pulled. This would have been the easiest of the temptations to fulfill. I’m sure it would have been easier if Jesus had just come down off the cross on Calvary. We do not test God to know His will. We faithfully follow His commandments in humble obedience in full knowledge that He cares for us and will protect us.
“When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time”(Luke 4:13).
(cf Luke 4:1-13)
Temptation always comes seeking our soul. We can find strength in Jesus’ admonitions because they apply to most temptations that cross our paths every day. In the most dire of times, we can find Christ in the desert. We can sit with Him and find consolation and strength with Him near.