Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Temptation, pastel chalk, by Tobias Mayer, 2022

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
Luke 4:5-7

Luke mentions three specific temptations that Jesus faced during his time in the desert, but it is worth noting that Jesus...was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil.1 This rather implies a full forty days of temptation, perhaps culminating in the three specific temptations, which in each case Jesus outwits the devil in his responses.

When times are hard, we seek quick and easy solutions, shortcuts and workarounds. While this may be necessary from time to time the long term effect of short term fixes is rarely positive. We compromise quality and robustness—and our very integrity in the process. Jesus held true in these times of temptation, as a model to us to stay focused on what is important.

But the seeking of quick fixes was only one aspect of these temptations, the more important one perhaps being the earthly desire for wealth and power. It is so easy for us to believe we have a right to such things, and even that they are more important than anything else. We believe it because we see that others have wealth, and others have power, and we tell ourselves (often contrary to actual evidence) that they are happy, concluding that we too would be happy with more money, and more people to order around. Our economy and all our organisational structures are indeed built on these very foundations. Jesus reveals to us their fragility, their very impermanence, reminds us that is is truth, faith, integrity, love, justice—and the ability to pause and consider the long term implications of our actions—that become the true foundations of a decent life. If only we listened.

1 Luke 4:1-2