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Temptation and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Posted by Richard Massafra on

Meeting Our Needs Basic and Advanced

I had my Bible open and I was looking to read something where I didn’t have notes in it. But I came Matthew 4.  The page was filled with notes but I stopped anyway.

The chapter starts with Jesus fasting for 40 days and nights. Then He becomes hungry.  I think I would have been hungry way before that. Jesus becoming hungry after He ended fasting is whole different post.

I haven’t had a psychology class in decades. However, I instantly thought of Maslow.  I couldn't remember what it was called but a quick search brought me to Hierarchy of Needs. Here the devil just tempted right up the pyramid.  Check it out.


The devil shows up and tempts Jesus to make bread out of stones. Jesus replies Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Next the devil took Him to stand on the highest part of the temple and wanted Him to jump off. The devil quoted the Bible and said angels would come and “bear You up”  so He would not be hurt.  

Jesus replied “You should not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Next the devil takes Jesus to a mountain top and promises Him power and authority over all the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus commands the devil to leave and says “For it is written,’You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’ ”

Hierarchy of Needs

But what came to my mind was Malow’s hierarchy of needs. First the devil tempted with physiological needs.  Food and meeting basic survival needs.  Then he tempted Jesus with safety and love.

These are the second and third needs. The devil tempts to throw Jesus to throw himself off a tall building  and says you won't get hurt because you are loved. God will rescue you.

That didn’t work. So the devil moves higher up the needs pyramid and wants to give Jesus control over all the kingdoms of heaven.  This is talking to the needs of esteem and self-actualization.  Esteem is about status and prestige.

Seek First

The thing is we are to look to Jesus, look to God and follow.  All of our needs will be met and we will have plenty left over to share.  We will be able to share with people and with animals.

We are called to do something.  Our needs will not be met without action.