FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS
For forty days, Jesus had been fasting in the wastelands of Judea.
The devil tested him. He did not ‘tempt’ him. The devil tested him. Because the devil wanted a Messiah who was fit for purpose.
He tested Jesus like a warrior tests his weapons, to make sure they can be relied upon.
The devil wanted a Messiah he could rely upon:
A Messiah he could rely upon to prioritise his own needs, to use his power to satisfy his own appetite:
‘Since you are the Son of god, tell this stone to become bread!’
A Messiah he could rely upon to seize power, so that he could use that power for good: ‘Become my client, and all this power will be yours.’
A Messiah he could rely upon to invoke divine protection without question.
‘Throw yourself from roof of the Temple, God will protect you that’s his business.’
Jesus could not be relied upon.
Should the Son of God prioritize his own appetite? ‘Man does not live on bread alone…’ Jesus replied, leaving the devil to complete the sentence, ‘… but by everything that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
Should the Son of God piggy-back on the popular power of the day in order to exert influence? ‘You shall serve only God’, Jesus replied. Secular power is not a prerequisite for doing God’s will on earth.
Should the Son of God always assume God was on his side, regardless of what he did? ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test,’ Jesus replied.
The devil had just put the Son of God to the test.
And the Son of God failed the test.
He was useless in aiding the devil to achieve the devil’s goals.
In tests like these, Christian communities have often achieved much better results.