Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his Angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Then the devil left him, and suddenly Angels came and waited on him.
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“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into temptation.
When I first read this passage, I didn’t realize the weight of that statement. It can be easy sometimes for me to forget that Jesus had a mundane nature to Him, leading Him to experience struggles and temptation, just like we do every single day. This scripture exemplifies how important these experiences truly are.
The events in this gospel take place just after Jesus is baptized and just before Jesus is about to start His life of great ministry. The Holy Spirit is therefore leading Him into this experience of trial and temptation to prepare Him for the great things that He is to do. Jesus is tempted in every way that we are tempted. Especially when Satan says: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus is tempted here to take the easy route. This is a challenge that we may face every day when we decide whether we should live out our faith or not. It can be easy to reject our faith when it becomes a challenge. However, Jesus is the perfect model that shows how we can endure the struggles, trust in the Father, and come out of the trials better and stronger. As we enter into the season of Lent, it is important to remember not to be tempted to take the easy way out when it will not help us to grow and be closer to God.
Sometimes we can be famished from our relationship with God if we allow ourselves to be distanced from Him. I find that when I am in these situations of struggle or temptation, I tend to rely only on myself to find my way through the chaos. And in these moments, I forget my identity in the Lord. I feel this void that I later realize was the absence of the One I needed most. I realize that I was famished and hungering for the peace and guidance of God. In those times, I can forget that I am His and He wants to help me with those hard moments. Throughout the gospel, Satan is trying to make Jesus question His identity, saying several times: “If you are the son of God…”. If Jesus were to give in to His human ways, He might have tried to prove to Satan His power. But Jesus does not let the evil one test Him. He rises above that. Jesus does not need to prove His identity. He knows who He is and who His Father is.
Know who you are and know Whose you are.
I pray that mine and your Lent season is filled with reliance on God for all of the hard moments that we will face. Amen.