“Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness found in the gospel of Matthew chapter 4 verses 1-11”
My dear Christians and non-Christians alike and you of all faiths and thoughts and all views and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and do not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, political code words, and hype can join in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in this world of confusion and please come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I will once again set about to explain and interpret another gospel passage, this time found in the gospel of Matthew chapter 4 vv 1-11 and do so with hesitation and humility. I am honored to have the great privilege of even attempting to grasp and comprehend the words and mind of the son of God, the savior of the world and redeemer of all mankind and all generations present, to come and in the past. The words of this gospel passage from the gospel of Matthew are as follows:
Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights he was hungry, And the tempter came to him and said to him, “If you, the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down for it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and on their hands they will bear you up lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written: ‘You shall not put the lord your God to the test.’” Again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan. For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him and behold angels came and were ministering to him.
This a most interesting if not puzzling passage, and it is a challenge to fully understand what actually happened here. First, the devil, having brought down our first parents, God’s new creation, and having brought all sorts and kinds and manners of evil into the world, here returns to tempt the rescuer of humanity who will offer to mankind salvation and eternal life, a plan the devil here seeks to prevent and stop. The devil reappears many times in First Chronicles and Job and in the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The biblical revelation makes clear the reality and truth of this force of evil operative in the world.
What are we to say to interpret these temptations of the devil? First, Jesus is asked to perform some sort of useless miracle. Jesus heals the sick and infirm and even raises the dead and feeds the hungry but declines to do the meaningless and useless, with no loving purpose, where there is no act of mercy such as making bread from stones. In addition, he declines here to be tested with respect to his divine claim. Again, the request to throw himself down does no one any good and is simply another test which Jesus declines to be fooled that he must pass to prove that he in fact is God. The devil saying that he will gain all the kingdoms of the world if he will fall down and worship him, is rejected by Jesus with the response that only the lord God is to be worshipped and served.
It is important to understand here these temptations are directed to both Jesus’ divine and human nature. Jesus rejects here the false understanding of his power. The temptations are to use some sort of magic or to use his power for selfish means. The earthly glory of the messiah is a satanic temptation. Jesus here has withstood the assault of Satan as will his followers through the trials and tribulations they must suffer in their following Christ to make them apostles.
This a historical event but was essentially an inner experience of Jesus in his mind and soul. Jesus’ answers are taken from Deut. 6-8. The temptations are in essence taken from various ways of sinning against the command to love God with all your heart, soul and might. In calling Jesus the son of God he is defining him to be the representative of Israel. The same is true in verse 6 where the term “son of God” is used in reference to Jesus as the representative of Israel and the people. Finally, the temptation to offer the kingdoms of the world to Jesus first is something the devil cannot accomplish and in essence should be interpreted as power, riches and wealth. This power and wealth and the temptations connected with them are to be contrasted and compared with the love of God.
This concludes my attempt at interpreting this gospel passage from Matthew and I do hope, my friends, you found what I said here of some benefit and enlightenment and I urge you as always to return to and read and reread the biblical text.