It is verse 10 of Chapter Six of Paul’s “Letter to the Romans” that explains what was happening in Our Lord’s forty days in the desert.
That key verse states. “As to his death, he died to sin once and for all.”
There Paul was telling us that it was not his physical death that saved us. No, he saved us by what Paul called his, “death to sin.” Let me paraphrase that by saying it was his life-long pushing aside all temptations to sin that saves us.
(After all, there were two criminals who were crucified with him, and there was no value in their identical deaths.)
Today’s Gospel introduces us to the “boot camp” of Our Lord’s Life-long struggle against temptations, by saying, “He went into the desert to be tempted.”
His whole life was a struggle against temptations. In “The Letter to the Hebrews,” Chapter Four, verse 15 and 16 we read, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was similarly tempted in ever way that we are, but without sinning.”
The climax of his life-long struggle against temptations came in the Garden of Olives when, tempted to ask to be saved from the next day’s death, he pleaded, “Father if it is possible, let me be saved.” But he avoided the temptation to resist the Father’s will, by saying, “Not as I will, but as thou willest.
From that moment on, he was free from the self-love that had tempted him to save himself. He was able to tell the the women of Jerusalem, “Weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children”