This Sunday, we hear about the temptation of Jesus after fasting for 40 days. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert so that he could endure the same temptations that we face every day.
The first temptation was that of food. Jesus was hungry after having fasted for 40 days. How often are we tempted by food? I know I struggle daily with it. You may not think so (I’m rather lanky), but food is a major struggle for me. Not only is there a great temptation to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, but I also worry about providing for my family the sustenance we need to survive. Christ’s response was “One does not live by bread alone”. We need to rely on God first. Only then will we be provided with all we need.
The second temptation was power. Satan tempted Jesus to use his power to protect Himself from throwing himself off the “parapet of the temple”. Jesus certainly had within His power the ability to do this, and his response to Satan was “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” How often do we struggle with power? Power, in our culture, means success. Success is the most important thing in our American society. Oftentimes that success is at the expense of our families, ourselves, and our faith. We put God to the test every day in our struggle to have power. We want to be in control of our own lives. We want the power to make our own decisions. The only real power is in surrender. It is only in surrendering our wills to the will of Our Heavenly Father that we will gain real power–power over sin, power over death.
Finally, Satan tempted Jesus with possessions. He brought Him to the top of a mountain and promised him all the kingdoms and everything they held. Possessions–we want and we want and we want some more. We keep accumulating things in our lives. We worship our cars, our homes, our Facebook accounts. What does it get us? Possessions may provide temporary satisfaction, but in the end we will be left longing. In worshiping our possessions, we prostrate ourselves to Satan and worship him. Instead of worshiping what we have, we should instead, worship our Lord and Savior. It is only then can we find true satisfaction.
What really strikes me about this gospel is not the fact that Jesus was tempted. It was not that his resistance to temptation serves as a guide for us in resisting temptation in our own lives. Rather, what strikes me most about this passage is the last sentence:
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
We can’t avoid the temptations of the devil. We take a beating every day from him. He is trying to hurt us, to weaken us, to get us to turn our backs to the Lord. Oftentimes we give in to those temptations. I know I give in entirely too often. But we must remember that just as Jesus had angels ministering to Him, we, too, have angels ministering to us. Those angel, and the saints, are the ones we need to go to for strength. We need to allow God’s angels to minister to us by surrendering our own wills. We cannot accomplish anything from our own will, especially resisting temptation. We look to the angels and saints to guide us, to protect us, to pray for us. We look to Jesus as an example of how to resist temptation.