Temptation, Treason, and Good News

When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time (Lk 4:13). Technically, the translation should be that Satan departed from Jesus for a more “favorable time.” In other words, it was not a one-and-that’s-it temptation for Jesus. Satan was coming back for another try.  And if Satan was coming back to tempt Jesus, there is no reason to think that our life will be free of temptation.

The historian Shelby Foote tells of a soldier who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War and was ordered to go to the rear. The fighting was fierce and within minutes he returned to his commanding officer. “Captain, give me a gun!” he shouted. “This fight ain’t got any rear!”  The encounter with temptation is no different. Continue reading

Testing: the second

temptation_of_christThe Second Temptation. 5 Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. 6 The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. 7 All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” Continue reading

Testing: the first

temptation_of_christThe First Test. 1 Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert 2 for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Continue reading

Testing: human experience

temptation_of_christAs often noted, Luke writes with a narrative intent. This is true also for the account of the temptations. Our text is connected with the genealogy (3:23-38) that ends with “Adam, son of God.” How is Jesus, Son of God, the same and different from Adam? One similarity is that “[t]emptation is a universal human experience. Had Jesus not been tempted, he would not really have been human. … The wonder is not that Jesus was incapable of sinning but that he was able to avoid sinning although he was tempted. Along with the birth narrative, therefore, the temptations make an important anti-docetic statement: Jesus was fully human and knew what it meant to be tempted [Culpepper, 100-101] Continue reading

Testing: context

temptation_of_christ1 Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert 2 for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. 6 The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. 7 All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” 9 Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and: ‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time. Continue reading