"Christ in the Desert," detail of a chapel stained glass window, St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore.
Image by Lawrence OP licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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Tempted in the Wilderness
Matthew 4:1-17 Commentary
by Jeannine K. Brown
The temptation of Jesus has seemed to spark the human imagination for millennia.
Paintings and stained-glass windows that show Jesus confronted by the devil abound. Take for example Botticelli’s “Three Temptations of Christ” painted on the Sistine Chapel. The more extended scene, recorded in both Matthew and Luke, has also inspired writers, from Milton in Paradise Regained to Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Movies that visualize the life of Jesus routinely choose to portray his temptation in the wilderness, from “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” to “The Temptation of the Christ,” to “The Passion of the Christ.”
Maybe this keen interest comes from a classic portrayal of the struggle between good and evil. Or maybe it’s more personal -- maybe we are captivated by the story of someone who, against all odds, beats evil incarnate at its own game. Both of these lenses show up in Matthew’s temptation narrative in Matthew 4:1-11. In context, we’ve just seen the Spirit come upon Jesus to empower ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 345: Tempted in the Wilderness
January 20, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 4:1-17, the Narrative Lectionary readings for Jan. 20, 2019 (Tempted in the Wilderness) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.