Friends, in our Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, Luke gives us the story of the temptation in the desert. At every point in the Gospels, we are meant to identify with Jesus. God became man that man might become God. We participate in him and thereby learn what a godly life is like.
Jesus has just been baptized; he has just learned his deepest identity and mission. And now he confronts—as we all must—the great temptations. What precisely is entailed in being the beloved Son of God?
First, the tempter urges him to use his divine power to satisfy his bodily desires, which Jesus dismisses with a word. Having failed at his first attempt, the devil shifts to perhaps the greatest of the temptations: power. Power is extremely seductive. Many would gladly eschew material things or attention or fame in order to get it. Jesus’ great answer in Matthew’s account of this story is “Get away, Satan!” To seek power is to serve Satan—it is stated that bluntly.
Finally, the devil plays a subtler game—he tempts Jesus to manipulate his Father, encouraging him to jump from the temple and let angels save him. It is the temptation faced by Adam and Eve in the garden: deciding how and when God will act.