In grade school we learned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Similar to the original food pyramid picture, we saw a bright colorful picture of a pyramid divided into levels, outlining the innermost design of a human.
- Physiological needs-air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, exercise, warmth, sleep
- Safety needs-security and order, predictability and control, freedom from fear
- Love and belonging-friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, affiliating and being part of a group
- Esteem needs-esteem for oneself and esteem from others
- Self-actualization needs-seeking personal growth and peak experiences, becoming all of who you were meant to be
When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Jesus underwent a time of temptation by Satan. Jesus ate nothing for the forty days he was out there, and when the forty days were ended, the Bible says he was hungry.
Maslow called the first four levels “deficiency needs”. “Deficiency needs arise due to deprivation and are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the motivation to fulfill such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food, the more hungry they will become” (simplypsycology.org).
The first thing Satan tempts Jesus with is food. “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread,” Satan says. The devil offers Jesus bread alone to feed his hunger, but Jesus, even his hungry state, knows that bread alone is not going to save him. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
It’s like the devil leans a ladder against the hierarchy of needs, and in his temptations, begins to climb. Depending on what gospel you read, the next thing that happens is Satan takes Jesus into Jerusalem and up to the highest point of the temple. Satan tells Jesus to throw himself down. If Jesus wants to play by the Bible rules, fine, so the devil quotes some verses about the angels saying, “He will command his angels concerning you” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone”.
Mark’s gospel says angels ministered to Jesus during his wilderness temptation. Jesus didn’t “fall” for Satan this time either. Instead Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’.”
No doubt the devil knows Jesus’s position as the Son of God gives Jesus a special kind of power and authority. Invoking the strength of his unique Trinitarian existence of love and belonging, two times Satan says, “If you are the Son of God”. Jesus’ position as the Son of God means something.
Satan takes Jesus to a very high mountain showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He tells Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Revelation 13 talks about a beast that appears rising out of the sea, and the dragon, who is called the devil and Satan, gives the beast his power and his throne and great authority. The whole world marvels as they follow the beast. They worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying,
“Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
Jesus tells the devil, “Be gone, Satan!” For it is written
‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”