Matthew 4:3. “The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God,
command these stones to become loaves of bread.’”
Temptation has a bad reputation. We are told to avoid and guard against it; we pray not to be led into temptation. Yet today we read about Jesus being tempted by the devil—taunted to make bread from stones, jump off the temple pinnacle, and worship Satan. Two of these invitations to sin begin with the phrase, “If you are the Son of God….” Maybe that’s the tempter issuing a fourth temptation, and this may be at the core of every temptation Jesus and we will ever face—the temptation to doubt that we are God’s children.
We tend to focus on the tempting person, thing, or situation. But our temptations say more about what is going on inside of us than what is happening around us. “Just Say No” is an overly simplistic understanding of this gospel lesson, and an inadequate response to temptation. Temptation is not only about choice; it is also about our identity and direction in life.
What if temptation is necessary? What if temptation can be our teacher or a diagnosis? What tempts you? What tempts you into living less than who you really are?
*Originally written for and published by Forward Day by Day.