An Identity on Which We Can Rely
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In Luke’s gospel, the story of Jesus’ temptation comes immediately after his baptism and a lengthy listing of his ancestors. Both help confirm the identity of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. Now Jesus is led into the wilderness, where his identity is put to the test by the devil. The specific temptations are in some ways secondary to the question that introduces two of them. Twice the devil asks, “If you are the Son of God . . .” (Luke 4:3, 9), perhaps implying that the devil believes he knows better than Jesus what it means to be God’s Son. But Jesus, “full of the Holy Spirit,” is able to stand firm in his identity and deny the devil’s attempts to redefine who he is.
In our baptisms, we too are given the identity of God’s child, and we are given the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our baptisms do not protect us from temptation, even as Jesus himself endured temptation. However, in our baptisms we are given an identity that can help us endure the temptations and the challenges that our lives are bound to include. Baptism gives us the confidence to trust that our identity is defined by our relationship to God, and not by anything else. In this confidence, we can accept our failures and shortcomings and live boldly in a manner that seeks to emulate Christ’s own life.
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
After being filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism, Jesus is led in the wilderness. Through his responses to the temptations of the devil, he defines what it means to be called “the Son of God.”
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where 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. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”
5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’ ”
9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,’
‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.