Jesus in the Desert: A Midrash?

I am preparing for Lent, which of course begins tomorrow, and I came across this very interesting post. My husband has spoken of the ‘midrash’, and this post explains the concept very well.

pub theologian

My community has been spending some time with Jesus in the desert for Lent.

We have relied upon Matthew’s recounting of the story in Matthew 4:1-11.  It is a powerful story of Jesus’ desert experience – fasting, hunger, spiritual experience, temptation.  I have tended to look at this story as a straightforward historical account, that Satan actually encountered Jesus in the desert in bodily form.  The more I study and meditate on the text, however, its story elements seem to point more toward parable or midrash.

Note the language: ‘Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.’  Why not say Jerusalem?    Did Jesus and the devil hitchhike to Jerusalem from the desert?  I can imagine Satan getting to ride the camel while Jesus is forced to lead it along.

Notice the final temptation: ‘Again, the devil…

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