1st Sunday of Lent - Cycle A
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3)
Jesus goes to the wilderness, where the devil tempts him. He is crafty in his attempts to get Jesus to prove his divinity and compromise himself. After fasting for 40 days, Jesus is famished, so the devil tells him to turn stone into bread. If Jesus proves he is the Son of God, he can also satisfy his hunger. Jesus shows his faith in his reply: “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
In the devil’s next attempt, he tells Jesus to prove that God’s angels will save him by throwing himself from the top of a temple. This is an attack against Jesus’ identity, and the devil uses scripture to argue that Jesus would be justified to use his power. But Jesus knows what God has said and recognizes how the devil has twisted scripture. He replies, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
In the final test, the devil appeals to Jesus’ own goals, offering him all of the kingdoms of the world. This might have been an easy way for Jesus to accomplish what he came to do without the pain of the cross. Except he, who is God, would need to worship the devil. Jesus sends Satan away at once, saying, “Worship the Lord Your God, and serve only Him.”
In all the ways he is tempted, Jesus responds to the devil with humility and continues to trust in God. Others will echo the devil’s words and challenge Jesus’s divinity. Even at the crucifixion, people will say, “If you are the Son of God, come down from that cross.” But Jesus resisted all of this so that he could take away the sin that began when the serpent tempted Eve.
We often think of evil as sinister and recognizable, but the devil is more subtle. By offering a justification for something we need, confusing our knowledge of God, and offering us shortcuts to success, the devil plants a seed of doubt. He wants us to give a little more attention to ourselves and a little less to God. During these times, we can remember how Jesus responded. Rather than allowing the devil’s arguments to divert him from his path, Jesus keeps his trust in God.