“If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf. But Jesus answered, Scripture says: ‘Man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4: 3-4)
St Paul tells us in Ephesians 6: 12: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil spirits in the heavenly realms." How true is Paul here for the life of a Christian is that of a constant war against the principalities and powers of this world. The Ancient Serpent that accosted Adam and Eve in Eden is never tired. St, Peter confirmed this when he cautioned us: "Be calm and vigilant. Because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat" (1 Peter 5: 8). Just as Christ was tempted, each of us is tempted everyday, especially at this Season of Lent, when we are called to more intensive prayer, fasting and alms giving. The Church presents the narrative of the Temptation of Jesus for us to reflect upon and to learn in order to be armed and battle-ready.
The following are worth noting in the application of these encounters of Jesus with the Ancient Serpent:
1. The temptation was not a one-off experience. The devil must have tempted Jesus the whole time through. So the devil comes whispering to us the whole time through.
2. The devil tempted Jesus based on the needs and the weaknesses of man. So the devil today tempts us from our points of needs and weaknesses.
3. The role of Scripture in the entire temptation narrative is very critical – the devil used the Word of the Scripture to substantiate his persuasions. So quoting the Scripture does not always point to holiness or Godliness.
4. Jesus countered each of the devil’s temptations with the Word of the Scripture. We need to be armed with The Word in order to conquer this common enemy. Reading a Chapter of the Bible each day, especially during this season of Lent could be very helpful.
The aim of the devil in every temptation is always to sabotage our efforts to be close to God and to respond positively to His call. Just as he lured Adam to disobey God and sever that bond, so he continues to lure us even now. During this Season of Lent, the Church offers us the true remedies: for the desires of the flesh, we are to fast; for the desire for possession, we are to give alms; and for the inclination to pride, we are to pray. May this season be a season of God’s amazing grace on us all. Amen.