VII. The three temptations are identical in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, although Luke changes the order slightly to end with the Temple, since Luke structures his Gospel in part geographically: Jesus going to Jerusalem to die and rise, and the Apostles going out from Jerusalem to the world. Pope Benedict focuses on Matthew’s narrative.
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Mt.4:3). “If you are the Son of God” is the key challenge to Jesus, words that will recur at His trial and at the foot of the Cross from mocking bystanders. It is not only Satan who puts God to the test; humanity has done it from the beginning, challenging God to offer evidence for His claims, evidence that we will judge worthy or unconvincing. And indeed satisfying hunger – the hunger of humanity for actual daily bread – seems like one of the obvious achievements for the Messiah and for the Church.
As the past Pope notes, in the Multiplication of the Loaves and at the Last Supper we find two other great “bread” moments in Jesus’ life. In both, it is openness to God’s grace that is the condition for the miracle and the motivation by which it bears fruit in generous sharing of God’s bounty. History teaches, Benedict states, that when we choose bread first – material prosperity and merely human beneficence – eventually greed and injustice follow, rather than universal kindness. Only understanding the impact of sin allows this reality to come into clear focus and return us to the need for a Redeemer Who will change all things by accepting the sinfulness in Himself and becoming our Bread of Life.