We can become so obsessed with the nature of Christ’s temptation – was he really tempted? did he feel temptation like we do? and so on – that we miss the point of Sunday’s gospel. The plain fact is that Jesus resists the devil’s temptations and triumphs over them. We are called to do the same. And we can if we rely on Jesus and not on ourselves. If we think of Lent as a time when we ‘just try that little bit harder’ then we won’t make much progress. If we think of Lent as a time when we grow closer to Jesus then we will travel quickly along the road of holiness.
It’s interesting to note that the things that the devil tempts Jesus with are not so much ends as means. Jesus is tempted to take short cuts to show his faith, power, and sovereignty. He does not because he realises that these things will shown as clearly as possible in his death and resurrection. The faithfulness of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and the Kingdom he comes to establish will be made manifest in all their splendour in the cross and empty tomb.
Lent is a time when we can take stock and ask ourselves what we really want but also how we want to achieve those things. It’s also an opportunity to remind ourselves that we will achieve, not through our efforts but in union with Jesus himself.