Christ Jesus is in the wilderness alone for 40 days and he experiences hunger for the first time. He begins to know what it is to be human and to be “tethered” to a physical body. Then the Adversary tries to tempt him to turn stones into bread, to jump off of the parapet of the Temple and let the angels catch him, and to gain power over the earthly world and its kingdoms. Christ is very clear and steady. He calmly dismisses Satan after He has heard enough.
We are beset with temptations all the time. And we can feel it as a force, pulling us away from our work, away from our intentions, away from our purpose, sometimes away from those we love, away from our truest selves.
Think of how great the temptation is to be lazy! We want to accomplish something, we have goals, ideals even, and here comes the temptation to play trivial pursuit, to watch a movie, to waste time, to lose ourselves in food and drink. These things are not evil in themselves, not at all. But when they interfere with our intentions or our freedom, or are a hindrance to our becoming, then they are.
Notice the grass. There may be a few weeds but generally it just grows without much effort and needs to be mowed once and awhile. But if you take that same land and try to garden, if you intend to grow living food, to bring forth good fruits of the earth, then you are in for hard work. And then, oh then the weeds come in all kinds of varieties, sizes and shapes! Why is that? Where were all of those weeds when it was just grass? Why didn’t they show up until there was an intention for the good?
This leads us to a certain truth about temptation. When we try to act out of freedom, to improve ourselves in any way, or to fulfill an intention, then the Devil is right there to stand in our way! The more we try, the more he fights for his dominion here on earth.
So, should we stop trying? Or should we dismiss him as Christ did? We need a strong sense a self and a calm inner life to be able to just say, “Get thee gone!” But it is a worthy practice. And just as Christ was ministered to by angels afterward, we will also be helped with grace every time we succeed in standing calmly in freedom and letting temptation fall away. This is what it is to be human.