In these last few years I’ve come to realize that the temptations that Satan put before Jesus must have been incredibly challenging and difficult for him to resist. I think I failed to realize this because of an overemphasis on his divine nature (Doceticism) that ends up ignoring the human nature/aspects of Jesus and the world in which he lived. If looked at closely each temptation came with the prospect of an easier life, not only for Jesus but for the people and the world that he came to save.
Jesus grew up and lived in the midst of very poor people. Poverty was not something he had no contact with growing up, it was all around him. Work, debt, poverty, taxes were par for the course for a Galilean peasant which meant that food was a source of anxiety as well. Turning the stone into bread would not have only relieved Jesus’ hunger but it could have immediately relieved the hunger of so many around him. When he fed the 5,000 in John 6 their response was to make him king and for good reason. Full bellies make a happy people. Quick solutions make a people happy as our consumerist culture bears witness to each and every day. If he had just turned that stone into bread his life would be a lot easier. Of course, things would get rough again for the people when he eventually grew old and died but 40+ years of bread is a good deal.
Many who rose up to fight the Romans desired the type of kingship that Satan offered Jesus and for good reason too. Jesus grew up during a very tumultuous time. Add to this the familiar stories of King David’s glory as well as the Maccabean revolt and triumph and you can understand why many were ready to fight and usher in the Kingdom of God. The Romans did horrible things, they supported an oppressive King Herod and then his sons, they levied oppressive taxes, they disrespected their place of worship, the Temple. Lastly, due to various uprisings, they brutally killed Galilean peasants, crucifying thousands in order to send a message. If Jesus just bowed the knee to Satan this could’ve all be gone in an instant. No more crying, no more pain, no more living hand to mouth because there would be have been no more Romans. Jesus’ people could’ve finally lived in peace without worry.
The Temple was a sore spot for many of the Jews who lived outside of the city of Jerusalem and in the northern area of Galilee. The high priests worked closely with the Roman procurator and along with Rome oppressively taxed the people. These religious leaders disregarded Torah requirements in order to make a buck and did not lift a finger for those in need. Keeping the status quo the status quo is what was most important to Temple leadership. Corruption was par for the course and everyone knew it. If Jesus just threw himself down from the Temple allowing God’s angels to catch him in broad daylight he could’ve easily won over the people of Jerusalem. There would be no way for the high priests to counter him and to work to put him to death. The crowds would have immediately hailed him as the one who had come to cleanse the Temple of corruption. It could’ve been that simple. No calls for him to crucified.
Nonetheless, Jesus did not come to validate our ways instead he came to show us God’s Way. For His Kingdom is not from this world.