A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 4:1-11
1 At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.
3 The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
4 He said in reply, “It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
8 Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
9 and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
10 At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”
11 Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
Reflection: Temptation is real.
Temptation is a reality in life and every human being is subjected to it. The enemy is always lurking around, ever ready to attack us at a time when we least expect it or when we are most susceptible.
The gospel reading above shows the devil using the three most important human desires to tempt Jesus. First, he uses the human desire for food or for that matter, the human desire for material things. Some people go to the extent of committing sin just to have something to eat but other people, even when they are full, still want more, not just food but other material things as well. Yet Jesus is telling us that we do not live by bread alone but we must instead hunger for the Word of God, the real bread that gives everlasting satisfaction.
Second, there is the strong desire for fame. A lot of people want to be popular, to be known far and wide and to be in the news. Satan wanted Jesus to jump from the parapet of the temple and make a spectacular show. Many people would love to do that especially when there are reporters and cameras around. There should be no problem for Jesus to do that because the angels in heaven would come to His rescue. Alas, it is not Jesus’ cup of tea. Indeed, to make a show is not part of His mission.
Lastly, Satan tempted Jesus by offering Him the kingdom of this world. This could be Satan’s folly because everything is this world belongs to God. How could Satan give it to the Son of God? Yet, there is a lesson for all of us. Our human desire for power to rule this world could be our folly. Just look at how many kings, emperors, politicians, kings and other people of high positions commit atrocious mistakes in the exercise of their power. Most of them perhaps prostrated before the devil to get what they want! But not Jesus. He rebuked Satan to go away.
As we can see, Jesus was not exempted from temptation yet He did not succumbed to it. Let us learn from Him. As scripture says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrew 4:15). May we always ask Jesus to protect us from temptation.