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June 30, 2016

Jesus ends his “Lord’s prayer” by telling disciples to pray, “do not lead us (to enter) into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt. 6:13). The Greek article (the) is before the word evil, so the emphasis seems to be on the evil (one), namely, Satan, as in Mt. 13:19 (“the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown”).

Righteous disciples are to be wary of the evil one, who wants to lead them into sin by entering into his temptations. So they ask their heavenly Father: “keep us from entering into temptation.” Jesus later uses similar words in the garden of Gethsemane when he tells disciples to watch and pray that they may not enter into temptation (Mt. 26:41).

The main temptations would be to ignore or to disobey what Jesus has emphasized in the prayer that ends with these words about temptation and the evil one. Just before these final words of the prayer, Jesus has told them to pray for forgiveness of those who sin against them, and for “our” daily bread. Thus the evil one would like nothing better than to turn their thoughts and deeds to revenge against those who have sinned against them (like the disciple who used his sword to cut off the ear of the slave of the high priest in Mt. 26:51, after failing to watch and pray in Mt. 26:40,43,45).

Or instead of a concern that “our” whole family of disciples have daily bread (so that those who have more can share with those who have little), Satan can tempt disciples to think that their abundance of bread simply shows they are the truly blessed ones–and suppose that the destitute are simply irresponsible. Or Satan can tempt disciples to think that the desires of their heart are what matters to God, and ignore what Jesus has taught God’s desire (will) is, that should be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Or Satan can tempt disciples to think that their earthly kingdom, and its national interests, are just as important to them as Jesus’ kingdom of heaven; and similarly they think their earthly ruling fathers, especially the national fathers, are to be revered almost as much as their Father in heaven.

The way to overcome such temptations is to realize that praying for God’s kingdom to come includes the request that God’s kingly power would come and enable disciples to overcome the evil one. Then the Holy Spirit will come and empower disciples to do the will of their Father in heaven, rather than the will of the evil spirit on earth.

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