Context: Temptation can be encountered on one of three levels: 1) Purely external: This is when the evil one proposes some lie, but the person refuses to consent at all. Thus, the temptation remains purely external to the person. 2) Partially internal: This is when the evil one proposes a lie, and the person partially entertains this suggestion, taking some form of pleasure from the idea. Though full consent is not given, some minor sin is involved because of the minor consent. 3) Fully internalized: This is when the evil one proposes a lie and the person completely consents, thus making it fully internal. Clearly, Jesus experienced the first type of temptation. The evil one made three temptations and Jesus rejected all three in totality.
Jesus endured these three temptations as a way of teaching you how to deal with the temptations you endure in life. You are to reject them immediately without hesitation. This is hard to do. Very often, the temptations you encounter may leave you confused. The evil one is smart enough to try to trick you, confuse you and mislead you. He is subtle, shrewd and completely determined to draw you into his lie. But every suggestion the evil one throws at you must be rejected.
Prayerfully read one of the following passages from Scripture a few times. After reading it, use the reflections below for meditation.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:1–11 (or Luke 4:1–13)
Reflection: Jesus was “led” by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. Spend time pondering how the Holy Spirit led Him or, as other translations say, “drove” Him. Encountering human temptations was part of the will of the Father. Why? (Silent Reflection)
The first temptation was fleshly. Jesus was hungry, and the evil one knew it. Thus, he used something natural (hunger) to tempt Jesus to use His divine power to transform stones into bread. Why does Jesus reject this? One reason was that it was the Spirit Who led Jesus into the desert to fast. Physical hunger was not more important than the fulfillment of the Father’s will. Also, Jesus points out that the Father’s will is what satisfies, not mere food. There is a great mystery here. (Silent Reflection)
The second temptation comes in the form of a Scripture quote from the evil one. This is a common tactic used to confuse and mislead those who love God and seek to follow His will. But the evil one misuses Scripture, mixing lies within the truth. Say a quiet prayer that, in this moment, God will show you any ways that the evil one has proposed some “truth” to you in a way that misuses that truth. (Silent Reflection)
The third temptation is a clear sign that the evil one is getting desperate. He sees Jesus will not allow his subtle lies to affect Him, so the evil one becomes very bold. He offers Jesus all that the world has to offer. He offers Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.” But the price is absurd: “…fall down and worship me.” Jesus gives a final rebuke: “Begone, Satan!” Consider any temptations you have received that appear to offer you everything in exchange for everything. When God makes this offer, it must be embraced fully. When another makes this “offer,” it is among the most vile of temptations and must be rejected completely. In fact, not only must the temptation be rejected, but the tempter must also be rejected. (Silent Reflection)
The angels came to minister to Jesus. So also will you receive this consolation of ministering spirits when you fully reject the lies of the evil one and the evil one himself.
- Baptism of the Lord
- Two Standards
- Three Classes of Men
- Calling of Apostles
- Wedding at Cana
- Cleansing the Temple
- Sermon on the Mount
- Calming the Storm
- Walking on Water
- The Apostles were Sent to Preach
- Conversion of Mary Magdalene
- How Christ Fed the Five Thousand
- Transfiguration of Christ
- Resurrection of Lazarus
- Supper in Bethany
- Three Ways of Humility