I encounter many faithful Christians, both Orthodox and non Orthodox, who lament the various temptations they feel throughout the day. Look here. Do this. Say that. God there. So many temptations, such frustration. Many think that God had promised to protect us from temptation. Many believe, ‘just believe in God more, and He will place a magical sphere of protection around your mind.’ Of course, living just a few days as a believer in Christ teaches us this is just not the case. Temptation never ceases, but that is to be expected. Jesus was also tempted.
Take a moment and read today’s Gospel lesson:
At that time, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again, it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. (Matthew 4.1-11)
Although not directly about temptation, Jesus said, “If the worlds hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15.18) So I guess He could have said, “If the devil tempts you, you know that he tempted Me before it tempted you.” Why does it matter? Life isn’t about living without temptation, but fighting it. When Jesus challenges us to ‘deny ourselves, take up our cross’, He is calling us to realize that we are not so special that the devil won’t fight against us. In fact, the devil might just fight a little harder when we fight back. When Jesus was tempted, the angels ministered to Him. They will also minister to you when you fight back.