“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.
“For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
~ Matthew 4:1-11
Last Sunday we celebrated the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
During the Lenten season, many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ — his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.
In the above text Jesus enters the wilderness, where he is tempted by Satan. In the wilderness Satan seeks to duplicate his victory in the Garden of Eden when he deceived Adam and Eve.
After 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus is most vulnerable. He is hungry, thirsty and weak. Consequently, Satan visits him in hopes of using his vulnerability against him.
Scripture is our witness that evil is prevalent in our world. Jesus’ wilderness experience confirms to us that evil is real in our world. The devil comes to us in our most desperate state and places doubt in our hearts and in our minds.
As he did with Jesus, Satan tries to use our vulnerability against us. He comes to us with the weapon of doubt to get us to doubt God’s promise to us. He uses it in our family, on our job, in our business experience, in our education pursuits, and particularly in our Christian relations.
In the wilderness he first confronted Jesus with the doubt of being the son of God, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” However Jesus does not take the bait. Instead, he responds, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The devil is very conversant in the Scripture. He will often come at you using the Word of God to trick you into doing his will. “Throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” In the text Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12. The ability to quote Scripture does not make one a Christian. Even the devil knows Scripture.
When he could not get Jesus to accede to his trickery, he tried the common human weakness, our desire for the world and its content. You worship me and the world is yours. Unfortunately, the world was not the devil’s to give. Jesus, even in his weakened state, does not give in to Satan. “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
The temptations that were put to Jesus are put to us on a daily basis. Satan comes after us from all angles — through our family, our friends, strangers and our own ego.
He visits us when there is illness in the family, or we ourselves are ill. He comes after us when we have family setbacks or job issues and the like. Satan will give the impression that he is our friend and try to take advantage of our vulnerability.
During this Lenten season, we will be in the wilderness of our life. Satan will come after us and destroy our joy. He will make empty promises to us. Like Jesus, let us stay close to God and in his Word. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published Thursday, March, 16, 2017