If you are like me, you have read and listened to many teach about the three temptations of Christ, and know of those opinions claiming that the real temptation underlying each of the three is the casting of doubt. Well, now I think not. Meaning, not that this isn’t true to a small degree, but there was much more going on between Satan and Christ than we have recorded. Even if Jesus wanted to tell us, we couldn’t possibly grok it.
Backing up a half step, while praying and pondering about ordinances (see last post), my understanding of the scope of Christ’s temptations began to expand dramatically. If I am to understand what I was taught, Satan poked at every possible aspect of Christ’s mission, His righteous desires, etc, in an attempt to twist, obfuscate, confuse, JERC, or otherwise motivate the Savior under any and all possible pretenses to divert from His appointed path.
Consider the perspective we get from this scripture:
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (…) (Matthew 4:1–3)
I have always read this as, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and then Satan came to tempt him. Compare to this:
And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. (Mark 1:13)
Yes. Like that! But, there is an even greater difference than just the fact that Christ was tempted for 40 days! We have in these temptations communication between beings far more intelligent and sophisticated than we are. It is communication based on mutual understanding of things we do not know (remember). It is communication between individuals who have known each other well from the beginning of eternity (whatever that really means). It is communication that may not be bound by the linear thought we know in this temporal world. Remember Moses on the mount, being shown all things in an instant? Yeah, like that.
Bottom line? We might as well consider Christ’s temptation to be as infinite as the atonement. We have no idea! I’ll go out on a limb here and propose that this temptation was a substantial component of His preparation for His atonement.
Note: I use the single form of the word temptation because I no longer believe that it was dealt to him “line upon line and precept on precept, here a little, there a little.” It is similar to why we don’t refer to Christ’s atonements.