20200301 Jesus was not a bragger



Today at Catholic mass, Matthew 4,-11 is read.

it is remarkable that Mark and John never wrote about Jesus experiences and words in the desert in details. How could Matthew and Luke know about all those details about what happened in the desert? As we understand he went alone tot the desert. So Jesus must have told about all those details. Did Jesus really told the disciples after that “encounter with the devil”? about what he did and said? Jesus according to Matthew 6:1  and Luke? jesus said once:

‘Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 4,1-11 just mention about Jesus being tempted wihtout further details. I strongly doubt about the incredible story that Matthew and Luke wrote.



The text

John does not mention this story. Here are the stories told in Matthew and Luke for comparison:

Mark 1,12-13
Matthew 4,1-11 says: Luke 4, 1-13 says:



Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and

12 And at once the Spirit drove him into the desert 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the desert to be put to the test by the devil.

was led by the Spirit into the desert
2 for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.

13 and he remained there for forty days,
When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward. 



  1. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.
and was put to the test by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels looked after him. 3 and the tester came and said to him, ‘If you are Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves.’ 3 Then the devil said to him, ‘If you are Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.’
  4 But he replied, ‘Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 4 But Jesus replied, ‘Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.’
  5 The devil then took him to the holy city and set him on the parapet of the Temple.

6 ‘If you are Son of God,’ he said,

If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will put his angels in charge of you.’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone.’”  




  7  Jesus said to him,

Again, it is written, ‘You shall not test the Lord, your God.’ 


  8 Next, taking him to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour.

5 Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world

  He said to him,

“I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me.”

6 The devil said to him,

“I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish.
7 All this will be yours, if you worship me.”

  10  Then Jesus said to him, “Get behind me Satan! For it is written, 
‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”

8 Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God and him alone shall you serve.’”

    9 Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the Temple. ‘If you are Son of God,’ he said to him, ‘throw yourself down from here,

10 for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, to guard you, and again:

11 They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.’

12But Jesus answered him, ‘Scripture says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

  11 Then the devil left him, and behold,  angels came and served him.   Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, 

13 * When the devil had finished every temptation,i he departed from him for a time.


The story has been presented as a film


The message

For the author of Matthew, Jesus had to show he could resist temptation, like a examination/test after the baptism. In this examination there was to be seen if Jesus could resist from:

  1. using his miraculous  power to alleviate his hunger.
  2. accepting the possibility to  rule the world like a roman emperor

Was there a possibility that Jesus would not pass the temptation exam?

He was just being recognized at his baptism, that he is the son of God. Would God allow. With God behind him there would be no chance for a devil to succeed with Jesus, The temptation story has no logic to exist.

For the authors of Matthew and Luke, the mentioning of Mark had to be expanded for some reason The expanded stories are similar in Matthew and Luke with a few differences

These two are the main differences in Matthew and Luke:

  1. In Matthew the devil asks Jesus to turn stones into loaves. In Luke only one stone into a loaf.
  2. In Matthew, Jesus is first taken to the temple and then the mountain. In Luke it is the other way, first the mountain and then the temple.

The story led to the Lenten tradition.
“the idea of fasting for a long period, are both parts of the Lenten tradition.” read more at ideas.brf.org.uk

“Forty days recalls various periods of preparation in the Old Testament, including the forty days Moses spent fasting and with God on Mt. Zion at the giving of the Law (Ex. 34:28), the forty days the Israelites spent spying out the Promised Land (Num. 13:25), and the forty years that the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land (Num. 14:34). ” (Source: www.ncregister.com/ )

So Matthew and Luke took inspiration from Moses again as they did with the story about Jesus in Egypt.

Another curious aspect is that the devil was able to take Jesus to Jerusalem and to a high mountain. What is the devil able to do? Not even Jesus could do miracles without Gods permission. But the devil can?The author of Matthew and Luke upgraded the devil to a Gods level.



it is interesting that Mark does not mention a word about all the details in this “desert with the devil” visit. He seems to have heard about it but does not go into details. So I wonder if Matthew and Luke spiced  this story with details to emphasize the power of the devil and “temptation of the devil” dogma first presented in Genesis. It was important for the clerics at that time to scare people to faith. Lukes seems to have copied from Matthew who read Marks but where not satisfied with Mark.

This story was probably also important to be added to legitimate Jesus superiority something the Jews questioned 2000 years ago and still does. Jesus has not only the same youth story as Moses but did fast 40 days like Moses.

Elsewhere in the Gospels, people were astonished how Jesua casted out deamons from people. To Peter Jesus  said “get behind me Satan!” ( Matthew 16:23 ) Jesus refused to do miracles in order to prove his identity. Now Jesus tells about himself to his disciples that he was driven around in the sky away from the desert in a great fight with Satan? With this story, the author of Matthew downgrades Jesus to a simple human that could be corrupted by power.

If Satan really exists would Satan be so stupid to spend its time on testing  a human that was just before proclaimed to be the son of God? It is simply not logic.

And the story is not compatible with the humility of Jesus. Jesus was alone in the desert according to Mark, Matthew and Luke. Can you imagine Jesus telling his disciples like this:

“You know, When the devil said “bla bla bla” then I recited appropriate parts from the script. … And then the devil took me to the temple, I answered him with the first Mosaic commandment.”

For me it sounds absurd. Jesus was not the kind of man who bragged about himself and his intelligence. He wanted humans to listen to his teaching not to miracles and astonishing stories about himself.

Remind that he never talked about a remarkable trip to Egypt.

I could accept that he simply told his disciples that he was tempted by the devil like Mark writes but all those astonishing details? No.

I think that Jesus as a good Jew, fasted like all others

But I can not believe in the juiced temptation story of Matthew and Luke, as a true one. I jumped  over this story in my demythologized gospels as it does not help me to understand Jesus better. And it distract me from his kerygma.

However. Whatever I believe and think about this story, the author of, Matthew s’ Gospel is a great fiction storyteller a perfect movie script for a film producer or a scripts for storytellers that the clerics later became.



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