Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus Put to the Test

Set between the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of his public life, the account of the temptations occupies a key place in the gospels. Jesus is brought by the Spirit of God into the desert and, after he fasts for forty days (a number that recalls the trials in the past life of God’s people), the tempter comes and confronts him. There are almost no descriptive features of this malevolent figure to stimulate our imagination, but instead several names to express the significance of the act: “Tempter” (cause to fall), “Satan” (accuse), “devil” (divide). It is the struggle that Jesus experiences, and not evil in itself, that is the subject of the story.

The tempter puts Jesus to the test in three areas, and attempts each time to deform his relationship with God the Father and with human beings. First of all, he invites Jesus to cope with his hunger all by himself, by turning stones into bread (v. 3). Then he asks him to manipulate God by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple so that God can save him (v. 6). Finally, he invites him to enter into the game of domination by offering him power over earthly kingdoms in exchange for his homage (v. 8-9). The reader feels the suspense: if Jesus gives in, he will no longer be the Jesus that we know. But each time the tempter puts him to the test, Jesus responds directly and clearly, simply quoting Scripture passages with which all believers in Israel were familiar.

We could forget that during his life on earth, Jesus had to affirm over and over again the basic orientations of his existence, and to do so through a commitment that asked for everything from him. His ministry was based not on an obligation but on a choice, in other words on love. By his temptations Jesus is thus even closer to us, when we are tested in the basic choices of our life.

- What situations, what choices in my own life do the tempter’s questions evoke for me?

- What changes for us when we realize that Christ has already replied to the temptation, and that he remains faithful in his love for God and for humankind?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 June 2024