We will notice at church this week that the colour has changed! Instead of green, the priest wears purple. We are in the season of Lent, a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter. At Easter, we will celebrate Jesus dying and rising to new life, never to die again! But before we celebrate, we prepare. There will be six purple Sundays to prepare for the feast.
This first Sunday of Lent, we hear about what happens right after Jesus is baptized. Jesus goes into the desert, a place where very few people live, where it gets very hot during the day and rains very little. For 40 days he stays in the desert, eating very little, spending time alone with God. At the end of the 40 days, we hear that,
he was famished.
That means he was extremely hungry.
Then we hear,
The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Jesus, who is very, very hungry, must want bread. If he makes the stones become bread, he could feed himself and other hungry people, too. Would that not be a good thing?
But he does not do it. Why not?
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Look who is suggesting that he make the stones into bread. The tempter. Who is this tempter? He is not God. He is a stranger.
Jesus has spent 40 days listening only to the voice of God. He knows God's voice. He knows that the tempter, although his suggestion sounds good, is not God. And so he refuses to make the stones into bread.
When Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd, he says that the sheep,
will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:5)
Jesus knows that the sheep learn to follow only his voice, not the voice of strangers. He knows this because in the desert he learned to listen only to the voice of God.
This is Good News! Because who wants to follow a stranger? We want to follow Jesus.
So what does Jesus do? Jesus turns his back on the tempter. He does not make stones into bread. He does something even better.
When he gathers with his friends, he takes the bread, blesses it, and breaks it. He says, "Take this and eat. This is my body."
Jesus gives his body, his very self, his whole life—
Jesus becomes bread—
the bread that feeds all people.