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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Temptation of Jesus

I received a lot of these insights from a Catholic commentary that you can purchase through my blog. (Over There -----> )

The more that I ponder the pages of the Bible, the less familiar the Bible feels. You would think that the opposite would be true and with any other book it would be true. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard the story of the Temptation of Jesus. Yet, the more I hear it, it is as if I am hearing it for the first time.

Just to review - After the Baptism of Jesus, He is lead by the Holy Spirit into the desert where He is tempted by the devil for 40 days. The first temptation is to make stones into bread. The second is for Jesus to throw Himself off of the top of the temple to be caught by angels. The third is to worship the devil so as to gain all of the kingdoms of the world.

One of the things that I realized was that each one of these temptations was related to a petition in the "Our Father."

The devil says - make these stones into bread. Now how is that a temptation to Jesus? Making stones into bread isn‘t in itself evil, but it was self-seeking. Jesus would have performed a miracle for Himself. All of Jesus‘ miracles were for others. This attack by the devil was to challenge Jesus’ faith in God as a Provider - now look at what we are to ask our Heavenly Father, "give us this day our daily bread."

Jesus responds to the devil by quoting

Deuteronomy 8:3

- man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

This points to both our daily needs as well as our eternal needs, namely the Eucharist we receive at Mass.

I am going to show you the context of Deuteronomy 8:3 and you will see both. This is while Israel is in the desert. - Not a coincidence.

Deuteronomy 8:2-10

And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out upon you, and your foot did not swell, these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills,… And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.

That land that the Lord is bringing us to is our Heavenly home.

Then the devil tells Jesus to throw Himself off of the temple so that angels could rescue Him. I was always sort of baffled as to why this was a temptation. I would have just been petrified because I hate heights. Yet, the devil was attacking Jesus’ hope. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessings and the beatific vision of God (CCC 2090). Hope has two mortal enemies, despair and presumption. Both despair and presumption are disordered forms of pride. When we despair we are saying that we are too bad for God to save. When we fall into presumption, we are saying that either we are so great we don’t need God’s help, or of course God is going to help me - I am awesome!

It would seem here that the devil is trying to push Jesus toward presumption. The Devil says to Jesus throw yourself off the temple and God will save You. So would that be Jesus committing suicide? Jesus would have been in fact saying - I will show you devil how much God loves me!!!!

But no. Jesus responds by saying do not put the Lord to the test. Now Jesus is ultimately talking about God the Father, don’t put the Father to the test. Yet, Jesus Himself is God as well. Do not test Jesus either! - and Jesus taught us that we should pray - "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". In the Greek, this really means, "put us not to the test and deliver us from the evil one." This is the exact thing Jesus was going through.


Finally, the devil offers to Christ all of the kingdoms of the world - without the cross of course. All that He had to do was worship Satan. Notice that Jesus never says - these kingdoms don’t belong to you! In a way, they do belong to the devil because the world is plunged in sin and is doing the will of the devil. While this sin is obvious, this is an attack on Jesus’ love of the Father. The Golden rule:

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Ultimately, when we worship false gods, we are taking love that we should be giving to God and giving it to a created thing. This is against the theological virtue of Charity.

So the devil offered Christ all of the kingdoms of the world. When we do the will of our Heavenly Father we bring God’s kingdom to Earth.

Now look at what we pray in the "Our Father." We say, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

So really the ultimate prayer against the devil is the "Our Father", especially with Lent coming up.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant. I've often wondered about and been puzzled by why Jesus spoke and taught this prayer. Thanks so much for your insights. They have answered my questions. RJE, Rochester, NY

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I'm learning more and more about my Catholic faith every day thanks to people like you.