In the article “Three Tests in the Wilderness,” in the March 2019 issue of Living Lutheran, author Brian Hiortdahl reviews for us the three temptations that Satan tried to entice Jesus with during his 40 days in the wilderness. The temptations were:
To turn stone to bread.
To throw himself from a high place to be rescued by angels
To gain power over all the kingdoms of the earth by bowing to Satan
Each of these temptations Jesus resists and overcomes, using Scripture and declaring that God should not be put to the test.
Hiortdal reveals that Jesus overcame each of temptations in a much greater way in the last days of his life.
Jesus turns his body into bread for those with hearts of stone on Maundy Thursday.
Jesus is thrown down on the cross on Good Friday, but rises from the dead on Easter.
Jesus ascends to absolute power when he returns to his rightful throne in heaven on Ascension Day.
Because Jesus ultimately overcame these temptations in this way, we, too, have the ultimate power to overcome every temptation the devil sends our way.
I was wondering recently about how pivotal questions are often asked at significant moments in the story of salvation. Why is that? Consider these:
At the empty tomb on Easter morning, the angels ask the women: ““Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:6).
When the risen Jesus appears to the disciple in the upper room, he asks, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” (Luke 24:38)
After Jesus has ascended, two angels ask the disciples, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
These seem like basic questions, but they actually get to the heart of what is going on. Those to whom the questions are asked are experiencing confusion. But each question is designed to bring them comfort.
In the Easter quote, the women were sure that Jesus was dead, but the question reveals the good news that Jesus is alive.
In the upper room quote, the disciples were undoubtedly afraid by the sudden appearance of Jesus, but Christ’s question to them assures them that they do not need to be afraid at all.