The Lord’s Prayer: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
The story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness is found in both Matthew and Luke, although it is alluded to in Mark’s gospel. Luke’s version goes like this:
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
The temptations of Jesus lead straight into his ministry, and provide powerful insight into the sorts of struggles that Jesus was confronted with prior to beginning his work. All of these things, in theory, sound good: creating bread from stones. Not only will that solve your hunger, but perhaps that can be used to solve other people’s hunger. And food is one of the easiest to gain a crowd, as Jesus points out in John 6 (and evidenced by attendance on church potluck days). After all, the stomach is the way to the heart.
Being given authority over the nations seems like a good thing. After all, wouldn’t the world be a much better place if the Messiah, if God himself, were in charge? Wouldn’t all authority being handed over to him put us exactly where we need to be? Isn’t God reigning over the whole Earth the end-goal anyway?
And doesn’t Jesus proving his divinity, at the temple no less, seem like a good thing? To jump from the tip of the temple, and be rescued by angels—at that point, arguing with his mission and ministry would be self-evidently silly. Perhaps, this could be a good way to get the religious elite on his side.
And yet, Jesus accepts none of these propositions. He instead continues on the path that was set before him by God: one that ultimately leads to the cross.
Temptation is quite a powerful force in our world. And often, it is most powerful when we believe that the ends of whatever sin we commit, whatever step away from God’s path we take, will lead more easily to our end goals. But this is the deception of the serpent. Wouldn’t it be better in the end if you did things this way?
God offers us a path that we see in the person of Jesus. The temptation is try to accomplish the goals of Jesus through un-Christlike means. And so we are required to trust God’s ability to lead us down the correct path. By leading us away from temptation, God delivers us from the evil that has a hold over us. He leads us into true life.