“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. [And he] said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God …’” (Matthew 4:1, 3b ESV)
How terrible it must’ve been for Jesus. Though He is the Son of God, He is also truly Man—and in all of these temptations, the devil was offering Jesus a way to avoid His suffering and death.
It would be easy to convince people to follow you if you were willing to do miracles to meet their every need, like turning stones into bread. Or if you commanded angels to protect you from every disaster. No need for repentance, no trust or faith—just an easy life for everyone. No cross.
And then the last, most direct temptation—where the devil offers to turn over all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus for such a tiny price—just a little kneeling, a single lie—an act of idolatry. No wonder Jesus drove him off! Better to suffer and die—better to be crucified naked between two thieves, then to betray God the Father, whom Jesus loves. Jesus will give that worship to no one else.
And that is our salvation. The devil’s shortcuts lead only to death. But Jesus’ own freely chosen suffering and death on the cross lead to life not only for Jesus, who will rise from the dead, but for all of us as well, who trust in Him as our Savior.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for standing firm for our sakes. Amen.
* Why did the devil take aim at Jesus so early in His ministry?
* Which of these temptations—safety from need, from danger, or the whole world on a silver platter—would be the hardest for you? Why?
* What do you think helped Jesus stand strong under attack?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on February 24, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved