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Father Kirby’s Korner

In the Gospel of Luke today, we hear the familiar story of the temptations of Jesus in the desert.  What strikes me is that the “Spirit led Jesus” into the desert.  In Mark’s Gospel the Spirit “drives” Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan.  I always wondered, why would the Spirit lead or drive Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan for 40 days no less?  It seems at first glance to be rather mean of the spirit.  It would be one thing for Jesus to choose to go into the desert on his own, but having the Spirit lead Jesus makes it seem like, it was not necessarily Jesus’ choice.

Of course, Luke takes Mark’s version of the story and nuances it in order to provide some clarity to this question.  Luke tells us that after Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and then the Spirit led him into the desert.  Luke softens the idea of the Spirit forcibly driving Jesus into the desert, as in Mark.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit, as Luke tells us, gives the impression that Jesus had more of a part in the decision and that Jesus is more in charge than in Mark’s Gospel.

But why lead Jesus into temptation by Satan?

Gallons of ink have been spilled by theologians writing, trying to explain this.  One way to look at it is that Jesus as a human, was able to experience the entire gamete of what humanity is tempted with and how humans suffer.  In a way, even before Jesus starts his public ministry, he already knows full well, what it is like to be human and to be tempted by evil.  Jesus, simply because he is the Son of God, gets no free pass as a human.  He is fully human and experiences every part of being human.

This should comfort us to know this about Jesus, because he knows.  He knows our experience of pain, suffering and all the temptations we face.  When we pray to Jesus, he understands us because he experienced it all in his humanity.


James Kirby