Temptation is not a symptom of a nature, crippled by contingency; angels can be tempted. Being tempted proves of what I am made, who I really am.
Jesus’ temptations are by no means a pious charade with a guaranteed conclusion. They constitute a genuine test revealing who he is, corresponding to his actual character.
The first temptation reminds me that Jesus enjoyed a good meal. Wouldn’t he repeat the criticism, The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard” (Matthew 11:19)?
The second temptation would thrust him in the spotlight, isolating him as an extraordinary sign. He taught, An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet (Matthew 12:39). Don’t forget how many times, when he worked a miracle, he’d credit it to the person’s own faith and forbid the individual to speak of it. Does that insistence hint that he had to fight the attraction of being “special”?
The final temptation pushes him to abandon God. At his execution his critics will say, He saved others; he cannot save himself (Matthew 27:42). He himself cries out, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46). Although he does not forsake his God but surrenders his spirit, could I claim that there’s no insecurity in his trust of God?
Don’t these temptations reveal their deeper function? Haven’t these attractions to false and deadly choices actually motivated Jesus to tap into a deeper, unexpected strength?
Why can’t we grow to a more mature, a godlier place, a better way of responding when temptation exposes our inner workings to the beneficent gaze of God?
In Christ Jesus, why couldn’t our temptations reveal who we really are—the children of God?