Reflections on the Gospel from Rev Scott Gunthorpe - 10th March 2019
GOSPEL: LUKE 4.1-15
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit
in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate
nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.
The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to
become a loaf of bread.’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the
world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this
authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If
you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the
temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from
here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect
you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your
foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’
When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an
opportune time. Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to
Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
REFLECTIONS AND QUESTIONS
This scriptural account shows us how Jesus is not foreign to any of the
temptations that are common to our humanity: his human nature is in every
way like ours, yet without sin. At first glance, we see Jesus being tempted with
the desire for security, power, and affection. All human beings encounter these
temptations from time to time, but what is really being challenged here is
Jesus’ identity as the Christ and his unique mission as Savior. “If you are the Son
of God…” says the Tempter, “If you really care about these humans and want
them to be happy, you can whip up all their bodily necessities, rule over them
justly and be feared and respected by everybody— nobody can do the job
better than you. Just submit to me and my methods.” But Jesus holds steady to
his purpose: he must conquer with suffering love, not coercion.
This is likewise what is being challenged within all our little temptations: our
identity as sons and daughters of God in Christ given at Baptism. When we sin,
we are acting in a way that is foreign to the new life that God has given to us—
we have forgotten ourselves. We must turn to the Scriptures as Jesus does to
remind ourselves frequently of who we are in him, and we must turn to our
Savior who “knows the weaknesses of each of us,” that each one of us might
find him mighty to save.
All human beings need some degree of basic security (bodily, emotional,
spiritual), a sense of control or ability to impact their environment, and a
degree of dignity, respect, and esteem from other people. These are, of
themselves, good things. At what point do these good things become
temptations? How can you tell in your own experience that something is a
In which of these ways do you find yourself most frequently tempted?
Seeking security, control, or approval? How might you counter these
temptations using scripture or prayer?