How Jesus resisted temptation

Posted Sep 5, 2018

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Daily Scripture

Matthew 4:1-4

1 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God” [Deuteronomy 8:3].

Reflection Questions

The gospel writers said Jesus faced a searching spiritual test. It focused on whether Jesus would use his power for his own good or carry out his mission in humility and service. One temptation was for him to turn stones into bread, to meet his current physical want no matter the spiritual cost. In answer, he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, which referred to Israel’s wilderness manna experience (cf. Exodus 16:14-21). The clash was crucial, but not close. It ended with Jesus’ crisp command: “Go away, Satan” (Matthew 4:10). With Scripture’s principles shaping his response, Jesus won decisively.

  • All the temptations tugged Jesus to do things that would make his life easier by matching popular hopes of what the Messiah would do. Jesus, loyal to God’s way, didn’t “play to the crowd.” He met every temptation with the words of Scripture, even when the devil quoted (or misquoted) the Bible (cf. Matthew 4:5-7). How many Bible verses or passages have you memorized? As you listen to sermons or read, choose verses or passages to add to that list, so Jesus can bring them to your mind when you’re tempted.
  • Unlike Jesus, you likely never have to choose not to turn stones to bread. How are you tempted to use your unique abilities and powers for your own benefit, instead of building God’s kingdom by blessing others? How well do you resist temptation? If you don’t like your answer, know that denial or unhealthy shame can block God’s power to help you resist temptation. Ask a gifted counselor or pastor to help you. Facing inner struggles frankly can defuse them.

Prayer

Jesus, son of God, I face temptations every day. Plant the principles of your word firmly in my heart, that, like you, I might stay on God’s path and resist the lure of going my own way. Amen.

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

Our daily bread. I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole idea of daily provision, that God gives us what we need for this moment, not a shopping cart full of stuff for the next week. 

I’m picturing my hands, empty palms up, open to receive God’s daily bread. This is a powerful image of vulnerability and need. 

Yet, in truth my hands are rarely empty. More often my fingers are closed around false securities, my hands too full to receive God’s daily bread.

My hands grip those tasty crumbs of approval I got yesterday.

My hands cling to the bread of resentment as I nibble on it to feed my frustration.

My arms are filled with the illusions of self-sufficiency to ensure I don’t need to open my hands for help or provision.

My hands clutch my own sense of being right, the sweet bread of self-righteousness.

Or, sometimes my hands are filled to the brim with a sense of responsibility, racing from this commitment to the next, barely able to catch my breath much less pause to let God provide what I need. I’m busy!

My hands are so full of things I cling to that I cannot receive God’s daily bread. I must empty my hands, release the false bread that I feed on, become empty again and turn to the One who knows what I need.

Then Jesus, the living bread, the bread that lasts, can fill me up. 

Give me this day the grace to let go of all my hands carry, so that I may receive your daily bread. Amen.

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