Jesus’ rejection of the devil’s temptations
The gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is always the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. It is intended to make us think not only about Jesus and his struggle but to help us realise that the history of God’s people from Adam and Eve to the present day involves a similar story. The essence of the temptation of Jesus was the idea that he could go it alone, that he could be entirely self-sufficient. Jesus resisted this because he recognised his complete dependence on the Father. Each temptation that Jesus faces offers insight into the spirituality we hope to develop as we keep the forty days of the Season of Lent. We can trust God to provide for our material needs. We worship God because God alone has dominion over us and our world. We can trust God to be faithful to his promises. Jesus’ rejection of the devil’s temptations shows that he will not put God to the test. Grounding himself on the Word and authority of Scripture, Jesus rebukes the devil by his confidence in God’s protection and faithfulness.
Today’s Gospel highlights for us one of the central themes of the Season of Lent. We are dependent upon God for all that we have and all that we are. Anything that leads us to reject this dependency or to distrust its sufficiency, is a temptation from the devil. Jesus’ responses to the temptations of the devil teach us how we can respond to temptation. Jesus knew that he needed to be nourished by God’s word and that his true destiny lay in his seeking to do his Father’s will. When Satan succeeds in convincing us that we have it in our power to save ourselves then we are on the path to self-destruction. As we start our journey through Lent, this Sunday’s Gospel calls us to adopt the same confidence that Jesus had in the face of temptation: God’s word alone will suffice, God’s promise of protection can be trusted, and God alone is God. Lent is a time for us to humbly take God’s hand and to walk the path of faith and love that leads to Easter.