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Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. – Luke 4:1-13 [NLT]
The temple in Jesus’ day was magnificent to say the least. It was a beautiful white building that gleamed in the sunlight so much that people had to shade their eyes from the glare. So if Jesus is taken up to the top, it is a magnificent diving platform.
“Bread is back!” So says Jack of Jack-in-the-Box fame. He was touting his ciabatta bread sandwiches. The black bread in Moscow was tasty. The breads in Germany are delicious. And don’t get me started on sour dough breads. Jesus had none of these. And as creator of the universe, he could have turned the stones into the finest bread ever baked.
I’ve had the opportunity to see some beautiful, expensive, opulent digs. Apartments that sell for $1 million. Palaces and grounds that caused a revolt in France. And then there are the mountains. And the sea. And the Grand Canyon. Imagine all the glory of all these places!
When Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit, she was offered something that was pleasing to the eye, desirable for wisdom, and good for food. Glory. Fame. Bread. He has no new tricks. Jesus will not fall for any of these. None of them fill the soul – even though we need all of them to live and move and have our being.
But Jesus realizes that it is better to lose one’s life than one’s soul. He will not trade his true destiny for the best bread, the greatest fame or the most opulent glitz. For he knows who he is. And to let Satan direct his ways – even toward legitimate needs (bread certainly has to be on that lis!) – will take him down a path of which there is no return.
Perhaps we can learn something from Jesus’ encounter with Satan. The most important thing is that Jesus withstood the temptation, and began his vanquish of the Old Evil Foe. This is the first round. It will not be the last. But Jesus will prevail. Thanks be to God!