AFTER HIS BAPTISM Jesus was moved by the Holy Spirit to withdraw to a rocky wasteland west of the Jordan. He remained there fasting for forty days; and at the end of this heroic retreat, when He was hungry and exhausted, the devil came to tempt Him. He suspected that Jesus was the Messiah but hoped desperately to overcome Him. In an attempt to induce Jesus to use His miraculous powers in His own behalf, the tempter said, “If Thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
In response Jesus quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy:
“It is written, ‘Not by bread alone does man live, but by very word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’ “
Undaunted, the devil then carried Jesus to a high place in the Temple at Jerusalem. Using in his turn a text from the Bible, he challenged Jesus to cast Himself down, saying, “If Thou art the Son of God, throw Thyself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning Thee; and upon their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.’ ”
Turning to the Scriptures for His answer, Jesus said:
“It is written further, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'”
Far from persuading Jesus to perform a miracle, the devil had even failed to discover whether He was indeed the Messiah; but he was still persistent. Taking Jesus to a mountain height, he offered Him all earthly glory if He would worship him. But Jesus dismissed him:
“Begone, Satan! for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou worship and Him only shalt thou serve.’ “
Then angels came and ministered to Him.
Meanwhile, John the Baptist was continuing his preaching, proclaiming the coming of Christ. When Jesus returned to Bethany after His retreat in the desert, John publicly recognized Him as the Messiah, saying, “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” And he revealed the wonderful things he had witnessed when Jesus was baptized.
Meditation: Temptation is not sin. If it were, Christ would never have submitted to these assaults of Satan. Every victory over temptation is an advance in grace. To point out another means Christ gave us a pattern of endurance in temptation. Do we look upon our temptations this way, or do we allow ourselves to be discouraged when beset by them?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 19-20. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.