Friends, our Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent is the story of the temptation in the desert. At every point in the Gospels, we are meant to identify with Jesus.
Jesus has just been baptized; he has just learned his deepest identity and mission. And now he confronts—as we all must—the great temptations. What precisely is entailed in being the beloved Son of God?
First, the tempter urges him to use his divine power to satisfy his bodily desires, which Jesus dismisses with a word. Having failed at his first attempt, the devil plays a subtler game—the temptation faced by Adam and Eve in the garden, to pretend to be God.
And then, last and perhaps greatest of the temptations, power. Power is extremely seductive. Many would gladly eschew material things or attention or fame in order to get it. But Jesus’ great answer in Matthew’s account is, “Get away Satan!” To seek power is to serve Satan—that’s the blunt point of Jesus’ response.