Sandro Botticelli (Italian, c. 1481-1482), Three Temptations of Christ - Detail c. 1481. Vatican City, Sistine Chapel. Here Satan stands with Jesus on top of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, c. 1481-1482 Vatican City, Sistine Chapel. This painting is one of the series of scenes from the lives of Christ and of Moses which decorate the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. They were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV, the builder of the chapel for whom it is named. They were painted in the 1480s by several artists, who were working at the same time, so as to speed the extensive work.
“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
& he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
& the angels ministered to him.”
All three Gospels relate that Jesus spent a period of 40 days & nights in the desert immediately following His Baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist & the dramatic recognition given by Heaven to this event. The number 40 obviously has resonance with such Old Testament events as the 40 days & nights of the Great Flood (Genesis 7:9), the 40 days & nights that Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 24:18) & the 40 years in which the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness (Numbers 14:32-34). Mark’s reference to the Temptation of Jesus is the shortest of the three. Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11) & Luke (Luke 4:1-13) both describe in detail the temptations tried by Satan, temptations to power & pride, which Jesus resisted. All three agree that at the end of these 40 days & nights, Jesus was tired & hungry.
Sandro Botticelli (Italian, c. 1481-1482), Three Temptations of Christ - Detail c. 1481. Vatican City, Sistine Chapel. During His 40 days of fasting & praying in the Wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus: to make bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger; to jump from a pinnacle & rely on angels to break his fall (both Luke & Matthew have Satan quote Psalm 91:11–12 to indicate that God had promised this assistance); & to worship Satan in return for all the kingdoms of the world.
When Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, Satan said,
"If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
(Luke 4:9–13) citing Psalms 91:12. Once more, Jesus maintained his integrity & responded by quoting scripture, saying, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'"
(Matthew 4:7) quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
Sandro Botticelli (Italian, c. 1481-1482), Three Temptations of Christ - Detail c. 1481. Vatican City, Sistine Chapel. Satan stands with Jesus on top of the Temple in Jerusalem. Sandro Botticelli, Italian, c. 1481-1482 Vatican City, Sistine Chapel