For many of us this story is extremely familiar. We hear it nearly every year in our Lenten worship services because Matthew, Mark, and Luke each tell a version of this story. We call it “the temptations of Jesus,” though I’m not sure how tempting Jesus actually found Satan’s three offers.
I don’t know about you, but when I get tempted, it’s a real struggle to not give in to the temptation. Sometimes I give in and fail to resist the allure of things that aren’t good for me. When I read Matthew’s story I get the impression that Jesus found it supremely easy to reject Satan’s three offers. The story says nothing about Jesus struggling mightily against the temptations, sweating it out with Satan, and just barely managing to resist after a heroic struggle. That’s what serious temptation is like for me, but there’s none of that here. Satan makes his offers and Jesus turns them down easily, with wit and wisdom, barely breaking a sweat. So in some ways, this story seems a bit remote from our experience—or at least remote from my experience.
Moreover, the three temptations Satan dangles in front of Jesus’ face aren’t temptations you and I typically encounter. How many times have you been tempted to turn stones into bread, or bow down before Satan so you can rule the world? These are not the temptations from which our lives are made.
- Matthew 4:1 - 11