Friday of Lent 1 – Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Occasionally we will see someone do something truly remarkable. I understand that Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing, the first time someone had ever done that, almost was a disaster. An error in the trajectory of the descent from lunar orbit meant the place he was approaching did not have a place to land. He was forced to look for a safe landing place. By the time he found one, he only had seconds of fuel left when he touched down. I would have been a nervous wreck, but he coolly and calmly set his craft on that alien world. I found this little clip from NASA about it. You can watch it here:

In the reading which is before us, we see what is possibly the greatest victory any human has ever had. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary and Joseph, a carpenter by training who recently has taken up a new career as itinerant preacher, successfully resisted the temptation of the Devil. Of course, you might argue, He was also the Son of God and had powers beyond our reckoning. I am not denying that, but I am going to assert that this was a real temptation and Jesus, the human being, won this victory.

That is critically important for us. The second person of the Trinity, the Word, has taken up our nature to Himself. He did not wear our humanity like some garment he could discard. He became human, really human, subject to all our frailty. Most critically, he could die as He did on Calvary. His victory over temptation and the tempter which we read in this passage and in the other Gospel accounts is very much our human victory. One of us has triumphed. He has done what no one else has done. We have all succumbed to the tempter’s blandishments and threats. No one of us, except Him, really understands the full power of Satan’s temptation. We cave in too fast. Satan just doesn’t need to work that hard on us. The tempter gave it his best shot when he tempted Jesus. He failed. Rejoice with all the world today that Jesus has won this victory for you.

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