The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil – as told in Matthew 4:1-11, the text we are studying for Sunday, February 2. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to reflect on or discuss in class:
What do we think when we hear that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”? Why is that?
What questions do we have about that, and what answers do we have? Where have we gotten those answers? Which ones strike us as more satisfactory? Less satisfactory? Why?
The story lists three specific temptations posed to Jesus: to tell stones to become bread; to throw himself off the Temple (as a test of God’s promises of protection); and to gain the kingdoms of the world by worshipping the devil.
What makes these temptations … tempting?
Do they seem representative of any important categories of temptations? Which ones? (e.g., “appetite” or “self-satisfaction”? “Certainty” or “jumping to conclusions” – maybe literally, in this story or … what? Other?)
Do they seem to represent temptations that concern us? Why, or why not?
Do they represent “temptation” in general? How, do we think? (For instance, what do we think temptation is, or how do we think it works?)
Jesus and Satan both quote scripture. Do we see differences in the way these two figures use scripture? What differences? Do we see any implications for us in our answers? What implications?
What do we learn about not yielding to temptation from Jesus’s responses to the temptations in this story?
What do we notice about ourselves, and about our own responses to temptation, as we read this story?