January 19 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 3-4 and Psalms 19
How can we read these passages without commenting about Jesus’ temptation in the desert?Here He was, almost dead from starvation and thirst – feeling only the most basic human need – to survive. It was at this low point that the Devil did his business. Have you ever noticed that when you are extremely tired, hungry or thirsty – maybe when you are feeling very sorry for yourself – this is when temptations and “soulish” or “fleshly” behaviours get the best of us? All you can think about is your physical or emotional need. The words of Hebrews 4:15 seem appropriate here; ”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.”
What are the major categories of temptation mentioned here?
1) Bread for a starving man – body first – perhaps even before the will of God. These needs and appetites are very powerful but as people allow “fleshly needs” to gain control, other temptations such as lust, greed, gluttony, substance abuse, escaping into a fantasy world begin to take over. Jesus recognized the difference between basic human need and the temptations of the Devil. We also need to pray and determine to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies.
2) “Throw yourself down” – (from the highest point of the temple). Here is the use and abuse of position or authority for personal gain. There seems to be a misguided “spirituality” here – twisted with wrong motive. I don’t think its a coincidence that all of this took place at the temple – the holy place. I think that God takes issue with false religion, false worship, hypocrisy and abuse of the Scripture. How does this relate to us? We too are tested regularly concerning genuine and sincere faith. I believe that one of the Devil’s most common temptations in our lives is that of “testing God” – that is – not being sincere and trying to lie to the Holy Spirit.
3) “All this I will give you” – This is the temptation to compromise our moral commitments in exchange for worldly power or promotion. We substitute a simple walk with Jesus for worldly authority, a prideful existence and possessions. Remember – just because a job or opportunity promises more money or more power – it does not necessarily follow that the plan has God’s approval.
Can you see how the our enemy, the Devil, is constantly lying so that he can re-order our spiritual lives? Wasn’t our calling simple? Didn’t Jesus say to us “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”? We must keep our eyes on Jesus, the “Word of God” if we are to overcome the Evil One in the day of temptation.
1. Please comment on these 3 “types” of temptation – can you personally relate to any of them?
2. Can you find other examples in Scripture where people were tempted in these areas?