sexta-feira, 7 de outubro de 2016


Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness
to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1 (read 4:1-11) - NIV

This passage indicates that temptation is from God. Here God’s Spirit put Jesus in a place in order to be tempted. This may shock us, because in popular thinking God has nothing to do with temptation. But in the divine economy temptation has an important role in our life. It's like the wind blowing against a tree. By resisting and bending with the wind trees are strengthened. Were it not for the wind trees would be fragile and fall easily. Tempters are instruments that God uses to strengthen us. According to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament it was God who put the crafty snake in the garden along with the first couple. It didn’t sneak in on its own.

Temptation is part of our humanity. Without it we would not be human. In his humanity, Jesus was tempted like us all. This passage tells us about the nature of the temptations and how they were overcome. Jesus used the temptations like stepping stones. He could have stumbled and fallen, but he used them to advance along the path of life.

The first temptation was for Jesus to use his power for personal benefit, relieving the tremendous hunger that he was feeling. It would be perfectly legitimate to turn the stone into bread. But eating was not his priority at the moment. He was feeding on different "bread”. It was not lunch time yet. The temptation was for Jesus to turn from his priority at the moment to meet a legitimate personal need. This temptation is common to us all. Modern humanity has the tendency to value individual welfare over the collective good. Immediate profits and preserving political and military power take precedence over the future of humankind. We are prone to follow the easier route of immediate benefits and blind ourselves to the danger it poses to the more distant future. The shortsightedness of our culture is leading us to disaster. We are “eating up” the Earth’s non-replaceable resources and will die out like locusts that have striped the fields.

The second temptation was for Jesus to use his power by jumping off the temple tower and landing unharmed below, spectacular but useless. The purpose of power is not to make an impact. It would be tempting to convince others with the use of signs, miracles and wonders. People were always expecting that from him. We can imagine what a great impact such a feat before the crowd in front of the temple would have made that day! His rating would soar, but it would be a ministry without a cross. It's much easier to go the way of spectacular than to work quietly and unseen like yeast in bread dough. It is more difficult to be the salt of the earth, without others to applaud our spirituality and leadership.

The third temptation was for Jesus to bring in the Kingdom by assuming power over all nations. The world follows the path of domination to establish its “paradises", but Jesus points to the way of service. Jesus never commanded an army, took up arms, held any political or religious office or even left any writings. He refused the scepter of power and walked toward the cross! True worship is our humble service to others. As we serve others, we serve God. Many religions today try to impose their views on others by means of control through legislation, intimidation or violence rather than compassionate service and example.

By overcoming the temptations of immediate advantage, popularity and power we are empowered to follow the way of the cross. Our handling of temptation reveals who we are and gives us opportunities to grow.


Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do 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 splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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