A listener named Dan calls into the show and asks, “Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus to be tempted in the desert?” Dan came across the reading in Matthew’s Gospel where it says that Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted, and he doesn’t understand why the Holy Spirit would lead Jesus into temptation.
Father Dave explains that while Jesus is fully divine, he is also fully human: “It doesn’t mean that God wills that Jesus sins, and it doesn’t mean that God wills that he or any of the rest of us succumb to temptation. However, knowing that the rest of us, who are human and are not also divine, will encounter temptations all throughout our lives. One of the things we know about Jesus is that he was like us in all ways, in all things, but sin. And God did not spare him or protect him from all things. And we can extrapolate from that even though it doesn’t indicate this in the scriptures: Did Jesus ever get sick? We assume he did, and if he was like us in all things except sin then presumably once in awhile he had a cold.”
Father Dave asks, “Why did God will that the second person of the Trinity had to deal with anything that has to do with the human condition?” He goes on to explain that “Why?” is always a big question, but we believe it was the intent of God for Jesus to experience all things that are human. And temptation is one of those.
Father Dave says that the comparison reading used by the Church for Mass is the one in which Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent and give in to that temptation, as opposed to Jesus being tempted — one might argue, more strongly — and yet, did not succumb to the temptation.
“So, is it that Jesus is there as a model of what to do versus what not to do? Could be that. Could be just the divine plan of Jesus needing to experience all that is humanity so that he could completely redeem humanity. And not just like some sort of pseudo-human … Sometimes we might think that Jesus was kind of like that … What we want to emphasize is that no, it wasn’t like that, he was fully human. So, perhaps it was God’s will that he be tempted because all humans are tempted.” (Original Air 3-09-17)