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Did Jesus really deny all of the Devil's temptations?

Did you know…

…that Jesus ends up doing all the things that the devil tempts him to do in the desert? In this gospel story the devil tempts Jesus to miraculously produce bread, humble himself to receive glory and authority, and leap into certain suffering and death believing that God will be there to support him. By the end of his ministry Jesus does all these things, he just does them in his own way!

The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread."

In all of the gospels there is at least one story of Jesus miraculously re-producing bread and feeding thousands of people. The difference in those stories compared to the devil's temptation is that he does not create the bread out of nothing, but relies on the generosity of others who contribute the bread that he is then able to multiply.

And 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. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."

Jesus does eventually gains an incredible amount of power and authority in the kingdoms of the world, but the power and authority that he embodies in his ministry is one that turns traditional models of power and authority on their heads. The devil tempted Jesus to rule the kingdoms of the earth in total domination, but Jesus used his power and authority to empower others and help them claim their own authority in their lives.

"If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"

Instead of leaping off of a building as an act of faithful sacrifice, Jesus walks courageously into Jerusalem knowing that religious and secular leaders are going to try to kill him, believing that God would be with him through it all. The difference here is that he does not take that leap to test God, or to show how powerful he is, but takes it trusting that God will be present with him. In doing so Jesus claims a new kind of power; the gentle, non-violent power of sacrificial love for his community.

The main difference between the way the devil tempts Jesus to take these actions and the way Jesus actually ends up taking them is a matter of orientation. The devil is tempting him to claim power and authority over and against others, by overpowering creation to produce bread, overpowering kingdoms, and even overpowering death. Jesus, instead, works to empower other, and makes his use of that power highly participatory and dependent on the people with whom he is in relationship. Why do you think it is important to recognize that Jesus ends up doing all of the things he was tempted to do, just in a different way? How might this change how you interact with and see your own desires or the ways you feel "tempted?" Share your thoughts as a group.

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