Tempting and Testing – The Coming of the Accuser
God celebrated Jesus and gave a sign of the Spirit’s presence/anointing with him at baptism. That Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be put to the test/tempted (peirasmos). One word for both harsh, negative “testing” and alluring, deceptively attractive “temptation.”
Both challenge integrity, commitment, faithfulness. We experience tests and temptations as deeply personal. Here we’re given an external view, like Job 1-2. The Satan, the Accuser (diabolos, slanderer, devil) seems to appear in personal confrontation. God’s voice... Satan’s.
The narrative is stylized, simple, formulaic. It avoids taking us into Jesus’ psychology – like our inner struggles where we experience the core of testing/temptation. Paul and James focus on desire, law, human choice and weakness. Sin personified. Desires from within.
Here, we’re given a glimpse of the coming battle as Jesus “binds the strong man.” (Mt. 12:28-29) A curtain is pulled back. Jesus has fasted for 40 days. The Accuser thinks he’ll be weakened.