Tempting the Messiah — 1st Sunday in Lent—Year A

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot 1886-1894.The devil suggests Jesus should change stones into bread. He wants Jesus to be a materialistic Messiah who will focus on nourishing bodies to the neglect saving souls. Jesus replies that “one does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Christ shall change bread into himself at the Last Supper “for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

A depiction of Jesus being tempted at the temple by James Tissot, 1895The devil takes Jesus to a precipice atop the temple in Jerusalem and challenges him to throw himself down. He wants Jesus to be a Messiah who will hope to never suffer. Jesus responds that “you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test” by trying to force him into doing our will. Christ shall be tested and condemned by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and be made a suffering Savior according to God’s plan. (Isaiah 53)

The devil takes Jesus up to a very high mountain, shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and promises to bestow them all if Jesus would simply prostrate himself and worship him. He wants Jesus to be a compromised Messiah who will pursue good by doing (or serving) evil. Jesus replies that “Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” By unwavering obedience to his heavenly Father, Christ shall become the king of all nations, enthroned high upon a cross on Mount Calvary. (Matthew 20:21)

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