“If you are the Son of God…”

Introduction: Although, there are three different Gospel accounts on the temptations of Jesus, Matthew and Luke have a similar description with some differences of the three temptations experienced by Jesus, the Son of God. Our text for our Lectio Divina here is obviously Luke 4:1-13 whereby the temptations came just after Jesus have been baptised by John in the river Jordan where He was filled with the Holy Spirit and leaving the Jordan He was led by the same Spirit to the desert where he experienced the three temptations by the devil. In your spiritual journey allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and lead you as you may face any temptation.     

1. Read: read the text of Luke 4:1-13 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you? 

2. Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.  

3. Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord? [spend 2 min of silence] 

4. Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?

5. Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action. 

Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…

Reflection:  About the experience of Jesus’ three temptations in the desert one may ask simple or maybe naïve questions about how and what really happened in those forty days in the desert; why is it that Jesus being the Son of God be tempted by the devil? Who was there taking notes of what was taking place? Was it the Holy Spirit that led Jesus to be tempted by the devil, as suggested by Matthew’s Gospel (4:1)? What does Luke try to teach his readers about this episode in 4:1-13? These and other questions may arise in our spiritual journey as we go alone meditating the scriptures. We can find answers in Jesus’ teaching, life and deeds as we approach him with an open heart. It has been said that these temptations were experienced by Jesus during and throughout his entire life on earth. A parallel can be made here with the temptations the people of Israel had in the desert during their 40 years of Exodus toward the promise Land.

Central Message: “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf” … “I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose.” … “If you are the Son of God, … through yourselfdown from here, for the scriptures says: He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you.” 

Main points: 

A) “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf”. In 4:1, Luke tells us that Jesus left the Jordan by his own initiative to go to the desert led by the Holy Spirit, contrary to the suggestion of Matthew 4:1 where we read that Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted.  So, Luke tells us that God allowed de devil to tempt his Son just like he allowed him to tempt Job (cfr. chapter 1 and 2 of Job). Jesus then experienced famine after 40 day of fasting and the devil tempted him to use his power to change the stone into a loaf, so that, He could eat and make an end to his hunger. The intention was not only to entice Jesus’ power to make a miracle but to question his identity as the Son of God and his trusting relationship with the Father. That is why the tempter uses the conditional form “if”: “if you are the Son of God”. The concept people had of Jesus was that of the Messiah, the Son of God with all his human privileges of wealth, power and glory. But, knowing that, he chose utter dependence on God the Father and obedience to his Will. He quotes Dt 6:13 as an answer to the tempter: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of Gd.” In another text he would state “my food is to do the will of the one who send me” (Jn 4:34). And so, Jesus did not fall in the trap of the tempter, to reject his human condition, but maintained his faithfulness to God and his plan of Salvation. Our own temptations my occur when we act totally independent from God, relying utterly on our own personal resources: intelligence, self-control, power, etc, or when we renounce to our sonship received through Christ in baptism, by acting contrary to Christ teachings. Or when we no longer want to have that special relationship with God, like Father and child, but want to free ourselves/get rid of Him to do what we like.

B) “I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms, for it has been committed to me and I give it to anyone I choose.” In this second devil’s attempt to put Jesus to the test, shows him from a high place all the kingdoms of the earth and offered him all their power, honour and glory with the condition to worship him. Here we recalled how the people of Israel felt into temptation by turning away from God, they worshiped and served other gods instead, and committing acts of immorality (cfr. Ex 32:1-6). In John’s Gospel 6:15, this temptation appears very clear when Jesus was going to be taken by the people to make him their king (Jn 6:15), but he escaped to the hills alone to pray. He knew what the people was going to do. Jesus responded to the tempter with a second passage from the scriptures: “You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.” (Dt 6:13). It was very clear for Jesus that the centre of his life was God and only Him is to serve. He was not interested in earthly powers or fame or glory, but he was convinced that he was sent to build God’s kingdom and to serve God and humankind by restoring their relationship with the true God. It is easy for us to fall into this temptation because it is part of human behaviour. We search, in one way or another, consciously and unconsciously, fame, honour, power and recognition which are forms of idolatry because it is “us” we worship, putting ourselves in the centre and leaving God in the periphery of our lives. 

C) “If you are the Son of God, … throw yourself down from here, for the scriptures says: He will put his angels in charge of you to guard you.”  This sentence is quoted from Ps 91:11-12 which the tempter uses to sound more convincing. He puts once again Jesus’ Identity in question and at the same time he tests his trust in God’s protective intervention. Jesus sharply answered the tempter by quoting again Dt 6:16 “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” This reference seems to be taken out of the experience of the people of Israel who challenged God for his lack of divine intervention when they were suffering in the desert (cfr. Nb 20:1-13). They failed to trust in his power and providence. In Jesus we see unfailing trust making no demands or imposing conditions on God. He does not renounce his sonship neither betrays his filial relationship with God. Sometimes our filial relationship with God fails when there is a lack of trust in God’s presence and action in us. Take for example the times of need, sickness or troubles when we do not see any progress or improvements, but we only see darkness and no way out to our problems, we just give in. Look at Job’s and the Jesus’ lives; they are the prototype of sonship to imitate and follow. Don’t you agree?    

Some questions for our reflexion:

  1. How have they been the moments of temptation for you? Where do you put your trust in?
  2. Where is God in your life? Is he in the centre or in the periphery of your life? 
  3. What areas of your life are most vulnerable to fall into temptation?
  4. What do you do with your temptations?

"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures. Open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.

Any Questions? Keep in touch!

Contact me at: ruben@comboniyouth.org

Father Rubén Padilla Rocha