By Fr Robert Barron (wordonfire.org)
The first two temptations were straightforward enough: sensual pleasure and power. But this third one is more elusive. It is the temptation toward glory. It is the temptation to use God, to manipulate him, instead of becoming his servant: “Then the devil led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the Temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…'”
What does the Temple have to do with glory? There was no place more central in Jewish society than the Temple, no place more revered. Therefore, to stand at the very pinnacle of the Temple is to stand highest in the eyes of the world, with everyone watching you – even God. As the devil says to Jesus, “He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you…With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
This is the temptation to place ourselves above God, a temptation that all of us sinners are susceptible to. But Jesus replies, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Jesus himself is God, so he’s issuing a reminder to all of us: God remains God, and we must become his servant.
Having dealt with these three classic temptations, Jesus is ready for his mission. He knows who he is and who he is not. This is our challenge throughout Lent.
The Gospel passage then ends on an ominous note: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.” Notice the words “for a time.” This is warning to all of us that temptation will return throughout our lives, often at key moments. It’s a summons to be ready, always ready.