Today's Lectionary Text
Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”
Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”
Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.
I had the privilege of traveling to Israel as a participant on a pilgrimage earlier this year with Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr., recent ordinands and others. On one day of our trip, we visited the Jordan River to remember our baptisms, and we traveled just outside Jericho, where it is believed Satan took Jesus to offer him all the kingdoms of the world if he would only worship the devil.
Like many holy sites in Israel, this mountain now has part of the church associated with it, in this case a Greek Orthodox monastery.
As I read this scripture with that trip in mind, I’m struck once more by the arrogance of Satan and the utter futility of the devil’s sales pitch to Christ. Satan challenges Jesus to turn stones into bread, promises all the kingdoms of the world and challenges Christ to test God by throwing himself from the top of the temple.
These three temptations are things we humans easily could fall for, because we do so on a regular basis. We seek out things, like the bread, that meet our desires. We yearn for power and prestige, like the kingdoms in view from that high mountain near Jericho. We put God to the test all the time by going our own ways instead of doing what our Creator asks of us.
What we must acknowledge is what we already know about our Savior — and what the devil should have known: Jesus doesn’t need anything, most certainly not bread, but instead asks for a relationship with us. Jesus already is king of all. And Jesus doesn’t test God but instead humbles himself to God’s will, a concept we anticipate during Lent and honor during Holy Week.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, forgive us when we go astray. Help us to be fortified in faith like Jesus. Help us to give up ourselves in favor of others. And allow us the courage to bow to your will in our lives. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color