1st Sunday of Lent : Temptation
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11
The evils and calamities of our world and time compel us to ask deep and personal questions: What happened to us? Have we always been this way? Were we created broken? How are we capable of bringing unimaginable harm to others? Why do we commit sin?
Every sin or evil begins with a temptation. We will all face temptation. The temptation of Adam and Eve and the temptation of Jesus help us to understand sin and how we can stand against it.
In the book of Genesis, when God created man, He breathe into him the breath of life and man became a living being. So what makes us a living being is the breath or the Spirit of God within us. That is the very thing we cannot live without. In the temptation in the garden, Eve was told by the serpent that if she tastes the forbidden fruit she would become like God. But Eve is already like God, for the breath of God resides in her. She was tempted to become what she already is. Temptation belittles us and then promises to give us what we already possess. Eve was tempted to trust in someone or something other than God. She was tempted to create for herself through her own effort what she had already received as a gift – the image of God. She and the whole of humanity fell.
Through the sin of one man, Adam, the whole of humanity fell; while through the righteousness of one man, Christ, humanity was redeemed. How did Jesus do it? How did he triumphed over temptation? He was tempted thrice and he never wavered or fell.
In the first temptation, Jesus was famished and the devil asked him to change stones into bread. The devil used a real and legitimate need of Jesus for this temptation. Use what you have to get what you want no matter the cost. This was what the devil was asking Jesus to do. I need a job; I need to pass my examinations; I need to be successful; I need a wife; I need a husband; and the list continues. But will I do anything to get these? Will I lose my self in pursuit of these? Have these become my greatest values? Have these needs become my indispensable God? These needs are important, but “man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God.” When we follow God’s words, we will have more than we can ever dream of asking for or desiring. Trust the Lord.
In the second temptation, the devil showed Jesus all the riches and treasures of the world in an instant and claims that he will give all these to Jesus only if Jesus would bow down and worship him. How can he show all the treasures of the world in an instant? All the devil claims to have to give is an instant view of the treasures of life in exchange for the eternity of the human heart. This temptation is so important because often we make great sacrifices and give up great treasures for something so little. How can one accept an instant in exchange for eternity? The kingdom of God is within you. Why give that up for something so little? All that the evil one can give are mere illusions, smokes, and bubbles in a thorny world.
In the third temptation, Jesus is taken to a high point in Jerusalem and asked to jump in order to prove that God will protect him. This is a temptation of disbelief. To believe is to trustfully surrender ourselves in God’s arm without need for proof. Only a wicked generation asks for signs, Jesus maintained. Do I trust God enough? Do I trust that my life is safe in His hands? Do I trust that He will always protect me? Do I trust that with Him by my side my life will turn out well? Or do I need signs?
May God give us the grace and strength to overcome our temptations. May God bless you all.