Todayís lesson in Luke, the temptation of Jesus is immediately preceded by the genealogy of Jesus.† In Lukeís gospel the genealogy is backwards.† It begins with Jesus and ends up with Adam.† Why is it backwards?† To show us that God in Jesus is completing the work of creation that began with Adam.
The setting of todayís temptation in the wilderness is
meant to remind us of the Exodus where
So let us use this wilderness setting to see two things.† The wilderness is a ďno placeĒ it is the place from where you make a choice to go.† You must chose to go somewhere from the wilderness.† The wilderness is not a place to stay but a place to decide where you will go.†
The temptation of Jesus was for him to make a separation from His Father.† The Father has a special way of relating to his creation.† The satan has a demonic way of dealing with creation.† The satan in the wilderness, in the place of exile, tries to separate Jesus from his Father.† Jesus ends the temptation by turning away from the seducer and he walks toward his Fatherís kingdom.
If we look at this lesson from too far away and see it only cosmically, it canít mean anything to for us because we see it exclusively as an experience of Jesus.† But since Luke spent so much time at the beginning of his gospel underlining the humanity of Jesus I would like to connect the temptation of Jesus to the very same temptation we face in our lives.
Temptation is always an attempt to break our
relationship with God.† A great satanic
power emerges from within us and from around us to make an effort to damage our
relationship with God.† The Old Testament
lesson for today is one of the first statements of the faith of
Each of Jesusí temptations were designed to shake His faithful dependence on His Father.† ďIf you are the son of God.Ē† These words try to intimidate him to thinking he is not Godís son.† Jesus had just heard at his baptism the voice of his father that proclaimed to be uniquely Godís son.† So now after 40 days in the wilderness the satan says in effect: ďAre you sure you heard that right?Ē† If you did hear that correctly prove it by turning stones into bread and by casting yourself down from the temple and taking worldly power for yourself as you deserve.
Each of these tests is a temptation because each implies that his relationship with God cannot be trusted and has to be tested and proved.† These temptations are designed to make Jesus doubt his relationship with His Father.† Itís like if we were to say to a family member.† ďProve that you love me.Ē† We all know if we put someone to the test that the relationship is already dead.† Our faith in god cannot be put to the test any more than we can test the love our own beloveds.† It simply is or it is not.
We put things to the test that we are not sure of.† I test myself all the time because I know that my mind is in fact failed and that my thoughts and desires are quite likely to be corrupt.† I must test myself like this all the time.† But letís look at the very end of Lukeís lesson to us for today.† ďDo not put the Lord your God to the test
The satan urges Jesus to control his own ministry and destiny instead of leaving it in the hands of his Father.† Jesus is content to be Godís son, to live in his sonship, making no attempt to take possession of that sonship or to control it.
So letís take this temptation of Jesus home with us.† Letís not keep it at armís length and see it only cosmically or remotely.† Jesus went through the same temptation as we do, but he did not fail.† He left himself in Godís hands and did not try to do it on his own and therefore fail as he would have if he stepped into the satanís trap.†
If we identify with Jesusí temptation we can also identify with his faith.† And we can in fact replace our own weak faith with his strong faith.† Jesus won where we can only lose and for that reason Jesus alone can cover us with his faith and bring us back from our wonderings in the wilderness and back into the presence of his Father.† Study, prayer, courage, and the Holy Spirit are all needed to aid in this journey.† Jesusí faith is strong enough to share with us and cover all of our weakness.
Jesus knew that his father is with him always and all that the Father has is his.† Let us make this our Lenten Journey: to know our Lord and to live in the faith of Jesus so that we can stop being tempted to be a god unto ourselves and to have no doubt at all that we are children of Jesusí Father.
1. Is Jesus temptation any different from ours?
2. Why is walking in the way of Jesus the key to resisting temptation and being authentically our selves?
3. How is allowing ourselves to adopt the faith of Jesus more effective than having faith in Jesus?