Luke 4: 1–13
Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the evil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.
The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”
For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendour to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”
Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”
“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”
That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
The temptations were not a pass-fail exam but information that let Jesus understand himself. That’s what they are for us as well. Every temptation is the opportunity to rediscover, affirm, and claim our identity as a beloved child of God, one in whom he is well pleased.
The temptations did not establish Jesus’ sonship, they helped reveal and confirm it. The temptations did not overcome his sonship. His sonship is what overcame the temptations. It’s the same for us. If that is Jesus’ way then it is also our way.
Our responses to the temptations of life, whether “yes” or “no,” tell us something about ourselves. They offer information about who and whose we believe ourselves to be. They reveal where we place our trust, how we see the world, and our way of being towards others. In facing our temptations we discover our true hunger and emptiness. We find out where it hurts and see how we act out of our wounds. We discover our weaknesses. We can become awakened and self-aware.
With each temptation we learn a little more about ourselves. That is important information. It is diagnostic. All of this offers an opportunity for a new life and a new way of being as beloved children of God. Treatment and healing can only ever happen after the diagnosis has been made. There is no salvation without temptation. You could say we are tempted into salvation.