Jesus’ first temptation is about physical power.
He’s surrounded by desert stones
and it would make life a whole lot easier
if he were to turn one of them into a loaf of bread.
But he doesn’t.
He doesn’t because he’s learning what it means
to have power over his own body.
Yes, he’s hungry, but that doesn’t mean he allows
hunger to take over his imagination
so he can’t think of anything else.
Yes, he could do with coffee, but he’s not
going to let his body become subject
to a craving for caffeine before he can begin
any form of physical effort or serious thought.
Yes, he’d love a beer, but he’s finding ways
to relax and be cheerful without
depending on a brown bottle to do it all for him.
Yes, he’s tired, but he’s discovering that he can’t make fatigue a perpetual excuse for avoiding those things
he doesn’t want to do, and he can’t make his own exhaustion
a symbol of his self-importance.
What he does is transform
every desire into a desire for God.
“One does not live by bread alone,” says Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy, “but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
If he had bread, he’d be hungry next day.
If he had a beer, he’d be thirsty again.
But learning to desire the word of God,
learning to feed on the bread of heaven,
means he’ll know the Source of his strength
when again there is nothing else to draw upon.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. Luke 4:1-2