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.
Happy Easter! What a wonderful coincidence that Easter lands on April Fools’ Day this year! It is so symbolic and ironic on many levels. Consider these verses from Scripture in light of the triumphant resurrection of Christ from the dead on this day:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” (I Corinthians 3:10-20).
On Good Friday, many at the foot of the cross of Christ thought Jesus was foolish. They thought he was a fraud. But on this Easter Day, it is they who are the fools and Jesus who is our Risen Wisdom.
On the cross, Jesus may have looked weak and foolishness, but it was in the weakness that the power of God was revealed and came to fulfillment at the empty tomb.
They thought they had Jesus all figured out on Good Friday, but today Jesus makes it clear that he is the one who has everything figured out for our eternal salvation.
St. Augustine famously said of Jesus on the cross: “Victor quia victima!” which means “victor because victim.” On the cross, Jesus turns the ancient thinking of battle on its head. Usually in war, the defeated is the victim and the executioner is the victor. But as the victim on the cross, Jesus became the victor over the enemies of sin, death and the devil. St. Paul points out this amazing reversal:
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” —1 Corinthians 15:54-55
Then in Hebrews 2:14-15, St. Paul describes the divine combination of Christ’s being victim and victor this way:
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.