My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family:
The Temptation of Jesus: “Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry… When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time” (Luke 4: 1-2; 13).
The Temptation of Jesus followed upon His baptism in the Jordan River. Upon coming out of the river, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus. The Father’s reaction to His Son’s act of atonement is one of joy: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus’ baptism is a sign pointing to His eventual sacrifice on the cross, and a true emptying of Himself in His identification with us as sinners. Thus, in every event of His life, Jesus set about fulfilling God’s first messianic prophecy in Genesis 3: 15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.” Mary will be the new Eve, and her progeny, Jesus Himself, will crush Satan’s head.
The Temptation of Jesus in the desert is illustrative of this never-ending battle between Jesus representing us (humankind) and Satan. Repeatedly during His ministry, Jesus will overcome Satan who will keep striking at His heel and ours. In His battle against Satan in the desert, Jesus is offering us several valuable lessons in discipleship. Satan is a formidable foe whom one cannot take lightly. We can only overcome Satan through Jesus, as the One who dwells in us is far greater than the one who dwells in the world (1John 4: 4). One needs to be alert and prepared at all times. Jesus is filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism and is led by Him into the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. The number 40 connotes a time of testing and preparation. Through fasting and prayer and in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus prepared Himself to snatch us from the clutches of Satan and bring us into God’s Kingdom.
The three temptations entice Jesus to “command this stone to become bread” (Luke 4: 3) if He is the Son of God, to worship Satan (Luke 4: 5-7), and to throw Himself down from the temple parapet in the assurance that the angels will guard Him (Luke 4: 9-12). All three temptations are seductions to rebel against God, subtly in the first and third, and openly in the second. In the second temptation, Satan, the Personification of evil (a creature), is asking to be worshiped by the Creator, the Incarnate Son of God. As Son of God, obedience to His Father is Jesus’ truest expression of sonship and covenant union. Adam and Eve failed the test of obedience to God as His children when they chose to listen to the serpent and his rebellious worldview over their Creator in whose image and likeness they had been created. In His responses to Satan’s temptations, Jesus is undoing the evil that has befallen us, convincingly overcoming Satan, sin, and permanent death through His death and resurrection! We have received the Holy Spirit through our Risen Lord. As Jesus was strengthened by the Holy Spirit in His war against Satan on our behalf, in like manner, as our Advocate, the Holy Spirit will help us overcome Satan and all his evil works. May you be blessed in God’s Embrace! You are in our daily prayers.