sexta-feira, 5 de maio de 2017


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit,
left the Jordan and was led
by the Spirit into the wilderness,
where for forty days
he was tempted by the devil.
Luke 4:1-2a (read 4:1-13) - NIV

According to Matthew and Luke, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert in meditation before starting his ministry. In the Bible the number forty is used to symbolize a period of preparation and the wilderness symbolizes a place of meeting. The Old Testament uses much these two symbols in its narratives.

Serious preparation is required for any new undertaking. Many of the great figures in religious stories went through long periods of preparation: Abraham and Moses started out late in life in the Jewish and Christian traditions as did Buddha in Buddhism and Muhammad in Islam. Jesus prepared himself for many years and the last stage of preparation were the forty days in the desert.

In this "final stretch", Jesus dealt with three temptations to divert him from the path. All had something in common.

The first temptation was a stone that looked like bread. Why not ease the fast with a small piece of bread? No one would know! The first temptation was to put comfort above the course of mission. Physical desire would be priority over a larger goal. That would pave the way to put the material above the spiritual.

Our materialistic culture is the extreme example of this reversal. Economics take precedence over the social well-being. Economic profit is above the collective good. Traffickers kill, the corrupt steal, companies dismiss and underpay their workers, and nations capitalize on war - all because of material values. But Jesus said, "NO, the other bread is more important".

The second temptation was a high peak. Jesus was taken to a high peak where he could see the kingdoms of the world and was offered authority and splendor. He would be able to impose salvation. Power is a false god. Salvation cannot be imposed. The Kingdom of God is not a system of imposition. It is a family, and all the inhabitants of the earth are brothers and sisters. It is dangerous to occupy high places. It gives the illusion that power can impose goodness. Again Jesus said, "No".

The third temptation was the temple roof. By jumping off the high spot and not getting hurt Jesus could demonstrate his supernatural powers and win the admiration of the crowd. Then it would be easy to have people go along with him. Jesus was not fooled. Using the spectacular to manipulate others is not part of the Kingdom. He came to show the way of love and not to put on shows! God does not need self affirmation to win admiration and sympathy. Once again Jesus said, "No".

A stone, a peak and a temple roof had something in common. They were temptations for Jesus to cut corners and avoid the cross. These are perennial temptations that stand in the way of us all. In our own desert we can also say our own "NO, NO AND NO!".


Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

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