Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

One of the puzzling things that I always think about first of all when we have this Scripture passage about the temptations of Jesus: Were they really temptations? I mean, could Jesus really have said “Yes” to Satan? He’s the son of God; could he have sinned? Well, we have to remember that Jesus was also fully human, and this is one of the ways in which the mystery of the incarnation becomes so real.

Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert
Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert

Yes, he’s fully human as well as being son of God, and so Jesus could have sinned. He could have been disobedient, and in a way, I think this son of Jesus, if he had said “Yes” to Satan, would have been a more horrendous sin than anything any of us could ever commit because Jesus was a full human being. He wasn’t diminished as all of us are in some way, where we would struggle to be good.

I think of that woman that’s been in the news who drove her minivan into the ocean with three kids trapped in their seats. A troubled person, so her guilt would be diminished, even though the crime would be horrendous. But Jesus was in no way diminished, and so yes, he could have sinned. In fact, in Luke’s Gospel, it says that the devil left him for a time, and so throughout his life, Jesus had to struggle as we do because he’s fully human. He had to keep saying “yes” to God, “yes” to God; “no” to evil, “no” to sinfulness.

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