Why Three Temptations?

Red Letter Christians | 10/20/2019 | Stephen Carey
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EDITOR’S NOTE: In this new Bible study series, we explore the words of Jesus and how they apply to our lives. Much of Jesus’ teachings are figurative parables and phrases which are subjective, defying one absolute interpretation. This study in no way represents the final authority on scripture or topics discussed. We welcome your thoughts and feedback in the comments, recognizing there is abundant room for disagreement without being disagreeable.

As previously noted, there were three temptations given us, but scripture is clear — there were 40 days of continuous temptation, not just three on the last day. The three given us represent the essence of all temptation, the consolidation or condensed version of what every human being goes through in the course of a lifetime.

Temptations - Tests - Trials - Jesus - Wilderness

The three temptations, tests, or trials of Jesus in the wilderness deal in a figurative way with three categories or dimensions of life. They can be viewed as allegories for living, a hierarchy of needs or priorities that help guide us to what is important.

The first temptation is an allegory of the body, the physical. In “hunger,” we find all the things our bodies need to survive, the physical things of life. Hunger can symbolize the rent or mortgage that is due, the food on our table, the clothes on your back, the gas in your car, the bank account balance, or the roof over our heads. It is a metaphor for all the things we “hunger” for in this life.

Temptation - Allegory - Soul - Well-being - Promise

The second temptation is an allegory of the soul, or our mental or emotional well-being. It is the promise of a positive outcome, of angels “bearing thee up,” of security and a worry-free life, a life without “dashing your foot against a stone” or pain. It is a metaphor for faith and fear, our anxieties and...
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