The “cycle of temptation” in the wilderness

Like most of you, I have several versions of the Bible. In one of them, where the devil approaches Jesus after the Lord’s 40-day fast prior to beginning his ministry, it says that after offering three temptations the devil had “completed the cycle” of temptation and left Jesus until a “more opportune time.”

I always wondered what the “cycle of temptation” was. Then one day, I thought it saw it.

The devil asked Jesus to turn rocks into bread. At this point in the fast, Jesus had gone beyond that period of time where the body ceases to be hungry and had entered the time when it feels hungry again because it is going to die without food. So this temptation was…  save your life at the expense of disobeying God. ‘Break the fast – save your life. Don’t trust God, follow MY suggestion – in effect, worship me.’ And Jesus said man didn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Then the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and said if Jesus would worship him, he would give the Lord all the kingdoms. So this temptation was… waste your life. Waste it worshipping Mammon and gaining a world that would have been given to you had you endured and continued to serve God. And Jesus said we were to worship and serve only the Lord God.

Finally, the devil invited Jesus to jump from a great height, counting on God to save him. So this temptation was… risk your life foolishly. Jesus replied that we were not to tempt God.

So perhaps this is the cycle of temptation presented to us at “opportune times”: Don’t save your life (at the cost of losing your eternal life), don’t waste your life, don’t risk your life.

I thought it was interesting and helpful – and I hope you do, too!


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