IN THE DESERT
4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
After His baptism, Jesus was led to
the desert by the Holy Spirit where he fasted for forty days, after
which the devil tempted him. Scriptures teach us that the devil
attacks us immediately after baptism and it is important for us to
have been trained in the desert for forty days (i.e., in a life of
prayer, fasting and good works) for us to be victorious over the
evil one as Christ showed us. The number forty is symbolic of the
complete spiritual training consisting in obedience to the commands
The devil attacks Jesus, seeing He
is alone and without help from others. Without prior training in
community life or family life, a soul has no chance against the
attacks of the devil. In community life, we are not alone and we
have the wise counsels of others, which makes the devil hesitate to
attack us. In such a situation, most of our sins come from our own
vices and passions and not from the devil.
Christ fasted because fasting is
the greatest weapon against temptations; just as the love for
delicacies is the beginning of sins. And He fasted for forty days.
He could have fasted indefinitely and not go hungry, but then He was
keeping His identity secret from the evil one to thwart his plans.
So Christ fasted only as long as Moses and Elijah had done and
pretended He was hungry to invite the devil to approach Him and
engage him in combat so Christ could throw him down, setting an
example for us.
The devil heard the voice of God in
the river Jordan proclaiming Christ as God. But now he sees Christ
hungry. The devil is confused; he has to verify and sets up Christ
"to change these stones into bread." The devil begins with
a flattery. When someone flatters you, beware, the devil is just
around. Flattery gets anyone's attention. It is a sin even to listen
to what the devil has to say. Eve listened to him and could not stop
falling into sin.
The first step in the devil's
temptation seems harmless: "Change these stones into
bread." But there is really something wrong with it if you look
closer. "These stones," ...why so many stones? Why not
just one stone? So the element of gluttony is there...the trap is
there without our noticing it. Knowledge of Scriptures is the means
to notice the trap, "Not by bread alone does man live but by
every word that comes from the mouth of God."
The devil heard the voice of the
Father at the river Jordan saying that Christ was God. But he does
not believe God. He needs his own proof from Christ. So he tells
Christ to jump from atop the temple. To hurl oneself is an act of
savagery; it is the mark of God to save. Christ calmly rebukes the
devil, teaching us to use meekness to repel the devil.
Then the devil offers Christ the
kingdoms of the world which in pride he considers his own. The
kingdoms of the world is the object of greed which he gives to those
who worship him.
Christ treats the devil meekly but
gets angry when the devil mentions the word 'worship' as the devil
appropriates to himself what belongs to God alone. Christ's superior
knowledge of Scriptures shuts up the devil. And the devil leaves
Christ conquered the three basic
passions: gluttony, vainglory and avarice which include all the
passions in them. And angels served Him; which shows that angels
will also serve us when we overcome our temptations.