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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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In the NT all the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) have accounts of Jesus’ temptation although only Matthew and Luke give any details, (Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13; Mk 1:12-13). Mt and Lk share in a threefold temptation narrative taken from what is called the Q source. There are differences, though, in their presentation. The narrative is considered a type of midrash or theological illustration presenting in cameo form the type of temptation Jesus experienced repeatedly during his earthly ministry.

The first temptation (Lk 4:2-4) appeals to Jesus’ hunger, tempting him to resort to the miraculous rather than await God’s will. In the second, the devil offers power and glory to Jesus in exchange for recognition of the evil one (vv5-8). The last urges Jesus to presume on God’s staying power (vv9-12). The three scenes have a common subject in that they correct a false understanding of Jesus. They depict Jesus as the Son of God obedient to his Father’s will and refusing to be seduced into using his power or authority as Son for any reason other than that for which he has been sent. Thus in Jesus’ response to the second temptation “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve” (Dt 6:13) he was able to deflect everything offered him and enabled him to resist any temptations that would run counter to his true identity and his mission.

In OT, the verb worship “shāchāh” depicts an action of bowing down and worshipping Yahweh in recognition of his salvific mighty deeds for his people and therefore deserving the fruits of the produce of the land which God himself has given them (cf Dt 26::4-10). The NT equivalent is ‘proskyneo’ προσκυνεῳ, translated as worship in all its occurrences (65x). Literally, it means to prostrate oneself, do obeisance to (Lk 4:7-8).

Jesus defeats the devil in three key areas of human weakness: the sensual appetite, the will for power, and self-aggrandizing. And this he does repeatedly in the course of his public ministry. The fact is that he resolutely put them down, confidently knowing who he truly is before God his Father. The account is a paradigm for all of us in responding to temptations that are not dissimilar in our lives. If we only ‘worship the Lord our God and Him alone we serve’, we, too, like Jesus, can resist the devil. For the God we worship and serve will provide us, being the true source of everything, the ‘bread’ we need, will guard us against all harm, and grant us the power and glory as his children!

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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