Eve was no fool.
I can’t speak for Adam, though. I think, friends, it’s worth reevaluating why the Serpent chose Eve over Adam for his deception. The traditional line is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Eve (being the “weaker vessel”) is the weakest link. But not only do we run into the theological quagmire of complementarianism, I think scripture proves that Satan’s MO is not to go after the weak so much as the strong. I believe Mr. Scratch knows just as well as Paul that when we are weak, we have a strength too strong for him (2 Corinthians 12:10). And he knows if you take down those who have earthly strength, you often take the earthly weak with them. If you take the king, you take the country, and possibly its neighbors with it. But if you take scullery maids and chimney sweeps, you’ll probably have little more than scullery maids and chimney sweeps.
All this to say, I don’t believe Eve was tempted into sin in the way most of us think of temptation, that is, losing control of our impulses. Otherwise, the Fall would simply have been the result of being born human. No, I believe the Fall was the result of humans trying to reason their way into strength. It was humans thinking their Father would be pleased if they didn’t need Him anymore. I believe that, unlike Adam who most likely needed nothing more than close proximity to an object of desire, Eve needed to believe that what she was doing was right. And so, friends, the Serpent accomplished the Fall not through passion, but through logic.
I don’t believe it’s any different here in the wilderness, with the sand swirling in the wind and the carrion birds circling, waiting for Jesus to lie down and die. Mr. Scratch is just as aware of Jesus’ humanity as is Jesus himself, and I think Mr. Scratch stays true to his MO in the wilderness as much as in the Garden. The essence of the three tests is to reframe Jesus’ mission, to recast our reconciliation to the Father in such a way that it can be accomplished within the norms and power structures Satan has established to maintain his dominion.
And so it begins:
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” — Luke 4:3
Mr. Scratch starts off with a simple appeal to human need, and while it may seem like a matter of impulse control, I don’t think it’s quite so base. I believe it’s an appeal to simple logic: What good are you to anyone if you die here? Eat, strengthen yourself, and continue the mission. But here, folks, is where I think Jesus knows something that Mr. Scratch doesn’t: wresting dominion of the earth from the devil is not the end, but the means. Jesus has come not to take dominion for the sake of dominion, but to right our relationship with the Father, and everything is either a means or a side effect of that end. And so Jesus parries the attack:
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” — Luke 4:4
If any of these tests could be considered “easy,” that would be the one. But the next two are more challenging because, unlike the simple need for sustenance, they acknowledge that the earth is in fact under a dominion that must be broken. And as we’ll see in the next post, Mr. Scratch will again attempt to make Jesus mistake the means for the end.