First Sunday of Lent (March 10, 2019)
Isn’t it good to be reminded again that Jesus was tempted by Satan?
The Scriptures tell us: Jesus is like us in all things, but sin. We can be tempted to say: “Of course, he didn’t sin; Jesus is God.” But that thinking denies the truth that the Scriptures take such care to present to us: Jesus is Son of Man, as well as Son of God. Jesus’ temptations remind us that Jesus is human like us. They also help us to understand how Jesus dealt with temptation. That gives us a model for our own experiences of Satan.
As we take time to reflect on today’s Gospel account, it becomes obvious that Jesus learned to keep his attention focused on his Father’s love for him. His great desire was to respond to that love by doing his Father’s will.
After his long fast in the desert, Jesus is hungry. Satan encourages him to use his power – change stones into bread. Jesus responds: “bread is temporarily filling, but there’s more to my life than eating.” Doesn’t Satan present us with the same temptation at times? Something we need would make us feel good right now. Jesus is reminding us to ask a question: is there more to my life than this need? Is this immediate desire calling me to be more dependent on God’s loving care for me?
Then Satan tempts Jesus with power and glory if he’s willing to compromise his Father as God. Jesus responds: “I have one desire in life -- to serve my Father’s love.” Often enough Satan presents us with opportunities for some kind of power and glory if we’re willing to compromise our values. Jesus reminds us to look into the eyes of God when we’re trying to make decisions in our daily living.
Finally, Satan tempts Jesus to test God’s care for him. And Jesus tells Satan: “My Father’s word is enough.” How easy it is for us to try and control God’s care for us: “If you’ll just give me this sign, I’ll know you’re looking out for me.” Jesus tells us: trust in God’s providence for you; God doesn’t lie.
As we continue our Lenten journey, preparing ourselves to celebrate the great events of our salvation, we could benefit greatly by some prayerful reflection on Jesus’ responses to Satan’s temptings.
Jesus shows us where we can find the source of strength we need when we are tempted: our God’s abiding presence and care for us.