Overcoming Temptations in the Wilderness-A A +A
The Good News
Thursday, January 17, 2013
LAST week’s gospel narrated the all-time favorite story on the baptism of Jesus on the River Jordan. While being baptized, heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove and the voice of the Father was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
In the fourth chapter of Luke we can see what followed. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and went to the wilderness, fasting and praying for 40 days during which time he was tempted by the devil.
First temptation: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” What was Jesus’ response? He cited Deuteronomy 8:3 saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God.”
In the same way the tempter tempts us with our need for bread -- symbolic of our needs for physical sustenance. How many of us are so preoccupied and in fact engrossed with the materials of this world? We work so hard, earn, store wealth, and then strive to store more. Just like the Israelites in the Old Testament who grumbled for their daily bread, blaming Moses for leading out of bondage in Egypt (see Exodus 16).
Today Jesus reminds us that our physical bread is not enough. He underscores the supreme importance of our spiritual bread -- his very words in the Bible as represented by the living bread himself, the Word made flesh who is no other than Jesus Christ our Lord.
Second temptation: the devil brought Jesus on a high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world and said, “If you worship before me, all will be yours.” Jesus’ response? Again he cited Scripture, this time Deuteronomy 6:13 saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve.”
Quite subtly, how often too are we faced with the same temptation! How easy it is for people to exchange the worship of God with the worship of idols, valuing more the created rather than the Creator. Maybe no longer an idol like the golden calf which the Israelites worshipped in the desert (see Exodus 32), but the modern-day idols of power, fame, money, pleasures, and the like.
The reminder of Jesus is clear: all worship is due to God alone. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
Third temptation: the devil set Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written, ‘He shall give his angels charge over you…” Jesus answered with the words of Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
We too sometimes try to impose on God, testing him saying, “Lord, if you do this or do that, then I can prove how true your words are and how much I love me.” Nevertheless, true faith and a genuine trust in God require believing in what God says even before it happens, not after. God can always prove what he said, but a believer need not demand for that proof to believe. Absolutely, we know that God can do anything, for he is all not only all-powerful and all-knowing; he is also truthful, faithful and loving.
The devil quoted Scripture after Scripture but he did so out of place and in advancement of his evil schemes. So, too, must we be on guard on people who use the word of God to advance their selfish ends.
Jesus used Scripture in the proper context. He fought evil with good; he overpowered darkness with light. What an example to fight all the temptations that come our way! Our awesome God is more than enough.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 17, 2013.