WE ARE WEAK. JESUS IS STRONG. WE NEED HIM!
(A biblical refection on the 1st Sunday of Lent, Year C – 17 February 2013)
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-13
First Reading: Deut 26:4-10; Psalms: Ps 91:1-2,10-15; Second Reading: Rom 10:8-13
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to Him, “To You I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If You, then, will worship me, it shall all be Yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” And he took Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge of you, to guard You,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. (Lk 4:1-13 RSV)
Adam, tempted in the garden, fell by eating the fruit; but Jesus, when enticed by the lure of food, triumphed. In Him we have removal of original sin and a fresh beginning. He is the New Adam (see Rom 5:12-21). The fact that Jesus was tempted proves He is human (see Heb 4:15). That He did not succumb is a sign of His divinity.
In today’s Gospel, it seems that the devil wanted to know Jesus’ identity and tried to trick Him into working a miracle that would prove He was God, for only God could turn rocks into bread. If the local baker happened to turn bread into rocks, it is a sign of human weakness; but turning rocks to bread requires a greater power.
This whole temptation scene shows the strength of Jesus, who could control His great hunger. If we were famished, we would probably do almost anything to get food and would feel justified in doing so. When it concerns food, some of us fall very easily. The devil knows how to handle a hungry man, but he never learned how to handle a hungry God.
Jesus was tempted by the devil to other foolish deeds, such as bowing down to worship him – which He didn’t do, of course, but which we might do if the payoff is big enough. Then there was the invitation to leap off a tall building – the corner of the Temple overlooking the deep Kidron Valley. It would have been a show-off stunt to impress the people. Here again, Jesus didn’t jump for glory; just as He didn’t jump off the cross, in spite of His agonizing pain. Instead, we do the jumping, to gain approval or applause and to avoid little inconveniences or difficulties. We manifest a severe spiritual weakness when we jump to false conclusions about others and misjudge their motives. That’s sinful.
Jesus must have endured numerous temptations during His life, especially in those unsheltered public years. We believe He emerged completely victorious – a 4.average, summa cum laude.
As for the rest of us who fail our many temptations, we realize that the power of Christ has not yet really taken hold of our lives. As we read the story of the temptations, let us acknowledge some basic truths. We are weak. Jesus is strong. We need Him.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know the temptations I face every day. Put Your truth deep in my heart so that I can stand against Satan’s lies. I want to take up the authority You gave me against Satan through Your cross! Amen.
Jakarta, 15 February 2013
A Christian Pilgrim