Reading: Matthew 4:1-11
Reflection: Essentially Jesus’ temptations were all about the kind of
Messiah he would choose to be. He was tempted to use his power
and position for his own personal pleasure, he was tempted to use
his power to avoid suffering and win people over through force, and
he was tempted to accumulate wealth and glory for himself, rather
than to follow God’s way of sacrifice and suffering. Yet, in each
temptation he overcame by choosing to live with humility and love
for the sake of others, rather than for his own aggrandisement. The
way Jesus handled these temptations tells us a lot about who Jesus
is – and isn’t – and also reveals a lot about the nature of God.
Notice that nothing Jesus was tempted to do was evil in itself. Eating
to satisfy hunger is a natural human need, and Jesus was called to
feed God’s people, as he did at the feeding of the five thousand.
Jumping off the Temple, while it may be foolish, is not really evil as
such, and Jesus was called to defy death through divine power, as
he did at the resurrection. The desire to win the nations was at the
heart of Jesus’ mission, and he knew that, as God’s Son, he enjoyed
all the riches of the Godhead. Yet, as the final temptation shows, the
timing and motivation of these temptations were what counted. If
Jesus had yielded to even one of them, he would have turned his
allegiance from God to the power of evil, and he would have
become powerless to save anyone. He could be a Messiah on his
own terms, or on God’s terms – and, thankfully, he chose the latter!
Our temptations are often the same. It is our light, not our darkness,
that tempts us. What we are called to do, and what we are good at –
these are the places where our motivation and character are tested,
and where arrogance, self-centeredness, and power games are most
likely to call to us. How are you tempted away from allegiance to
God today? How can you overcome those temptations?
Practice for Today: It is easy to see how Jesus overcame evil – he
quoted Scripture. He had immersed himself in God’s ways and
values to such an extent that he could easily recognise these
deceptions when they came. Today, make time to prepare yourself
for temptation by immersing yourself in the Bible.
Prayer for Today: As I read your word, O God, fill my heart
and life with a vision of your values and purposes.