Jesus was tempted because He willed it. Wow! Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way for us. Because of concupiscence, we are constantly tempted. In fact, if we aren’t being tempted we’re probably dead.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the devil doesn’t exist. He still goes about the world like a roaring lion devouring souls. Jesus showed us how to do battle with the devil, however.
Jesus had been fasting rigorously for 40 days when the devil showed up. So Jesus was very, very hungry and the devil wanted Him to turn some stones into bread. Jesus responds with something that we quote all the time in our house. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I love this, because here is the Word of God; the bread of life really sending a smashing volley back to Lucifer. So Jesus shows us that immersion in His Word and partaking of His Body and Blood at frequent Holy Communion, is a good offense against the devil during times of temptation.
The devil wasn’t finished yet. Unable to tempt Him with bread; he tempts Him with power. This fails, too. Jesus knows that a miracle such as being borne on the hands of angels if He cast Himself down from the high place, would win the admiration and the enthusiasm of the people; but that is not to be the Way for Jesus. His Way will be the way of the Cross, so he very resolutely rejects this temptation to pride. Jesus shows us that the way to conquer temptations to pride and vanity is by choosing what humiliates us in the sight of others.
Finally, the devil, undaunted by this second failed attempt, offers the King of Kings the whole world with all its riches, if He would just bow down and worship him (the devil.) Jesus replies “The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve.” Smack down! Jesus: 3. The devil: 0. Jesus is showing us that a heart that is firmly anchored in God will not be drawn away from His service by attraction to or envy of worldly goods.
What’s the final lesson? The devil exists; however we have weapons for combat. First, remember that our virtue does not consist of being exempt from temptations, but in being able to overcome them. Second, we must have great confidence in God. We must entrust everything to Him: our whole life and everything in it. Thirdly, and finally, turn to God with prayer and fasting and use faithfully the grace that God always gives when we are being tempted. He won’t let us be tempted beyond our strength to resist especially if we trust in Him and His love and mercy.
Remember, He has commanded His angels to watch over all our paths, and they will bear us up in their hands lest our feet strike against a stone.” What more can we ask for?