The 3 Big "No's"                                              

Scripture   Luke 4: 1-13   


 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. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God,

command this stone to become a loaf a bread…”




Lent begins … and so too our 40 day journey of deeper immersion into the mystery of Christ. After being baptized by John in the River Jordan, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert wilderness. With those wonderfully affirming words “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him” still reverberating through his being, he is plunged now into the stark silence and prolonged solitude of desert living. While this consolation must surely have supported him, he is now being drawn into the deeper interior discernment of exactly what it means to be the Christ and what the Father is calling him to do as the Messiah. After long fasting, Jesus’ spirit becomes lighter, finer and more sensitive. He becomes aware of his unique purpose and destiny. Then, when confronted by the three temptations, we hear Christ’s purity and singleness of heart concentrated in a radical refusal to go down the tempter's path. What was the meaning of Christ’s three big No’s? Can you imagine the tone of voice in which they were uttered? He faces a decision on the meaning and spirit of his own mission. He comes forth victorious.


First temptation - How would it be if he were to turn stones into bread as the tempter challenged him? This temptation was intended to induce him to turn his life and ministry into an expression of power, to dominate, to be ‘extraordinary’. Jesus says, No. “Man does not live on bread alone.”  With all the strength of his being, he chose to be a man of the spirit. He chose to live from the heart, refusing any kind of misuse of power. He was not going to be about ‘changing stones’ to meet his own or other’s every need and desire. Rather he would be inviting his disciples to be about ‘changing hearts’ and embracing a little way of gentleness and simplicity, living at peace within the human family. Power does not entice me.      


Second temptation – What if all the kingdoms of the world and their glory were given to him … “if you will fall down and worship me?”  This temptation for Jesus was whether he would opt for political power and success. Will he play the game of power politics? Or will he take the way of the suffering servant?  Political ambition and the desire for success could, of course, be easily rationalized as being for a good cause, God’s cause. Jesus says, “No. I will let God be God. "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him." Going God’s way will be costly, but there would be no compromise here no matter the cost.  He wanted to live in this poverty-stricken world, and to make radiant proclamation of the possibilities of unbounded love within this earthly realm for goodness and kindness to abound. He wanted to witness to unconditional daring, endurance and achievement. Therefore he said NO to this temptation and came back to embracing the poverty of our human condition. Anything else would have been a betrayal of the kingdom of God.  


Third temptation - The final dare. In spirit, he stands now on the pinnacle of the Temple with the tempter taunting, “Leap, throw yourself down. Nothing can happen to you. Angels will bear you up.”  This is a mentally challenging one that seems to contradict the Jewish expectation of the Messiah who was to appear in an extraordinary, startling and wonder-full manner. To this Jesus says, No. Be gone, Satan. Do not put God to the test! I am not coming as a sensational, grandiose, popular leader. I am coming in humility and powerlessness. The way of selfless love is the strongest power in the world. Truly noble love arises only in humility. Yes, Jesus is bearing the responsibility of guiding the world into the breathtaking adventure of God.  


Do you experience the Spirit luring you into the desert solitude of your heart to face there the scrutiny of  truth versus compromise with these three alluring temptations? The ‘desert’ is the place of the great purification and the great transformation.   


Carrying Grace    I will say “Yes” to a way of littleness, humility and selfless love.



#2 debbiec 2010-02-23 11:54
I really like the "carrying grace" as the close to this reflection. We tend to focus on the physical/moral aspects of the temptations -- and even Jesus' death on the cross. Jesus really did absorb all the attacks and evil that was thrown at him and bore it with "littleness, humility and love." What a model for the world today!
#1 arletteh 2010-02-22 14:09
Jesus was on a spiritual"high" after the 40 days spent with God,and only God, in very deprived us, the location on the top of the Temple mount.At this point,he needed "embodiment", and Satan was all too ready to show him the possibilities:b read that,like the stones,had no life in it;power, also,with no lasting life:and the temptation to throw off the vulnerabilities of humanity.Along with the temptations(and how consoling that Jesus, too, was tested so severely!) came the clarity to SEE what was going on within himself.To balance the temptation to power,and mere physical life,Jesus realized his vulnerability that would end on the cross! Oh,yes,that we may,in our relationship with our God,become more and more humble,walking hand in hand with our God! Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy!

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