(Begin by reading the Gospel. Sometimes it is good to have someone read it to you. The Word is meant to be heard.)
On Wednesday, the church entered Lent, the time of preparation for the great feast of Easter. At Easter, we will celebrate Jesus dying and rising to the full life of God that begins to spread to all people throughout all of creation. But before we celebrate, we prepare. There will be six purple Sundays of Lent to prepare for the feast.
The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent takes us back to the moment following Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan. There, while he prays, the Holy Spirit comes down on him. Now,
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
Forty days of temptation—what an extremely long time. Time with the Holy Spirit of God, but tempted by evil. How much longer, Lord? How much longer?
How tired Jesus must be. How weak. What does he pray? We do not know. We are not told.
Lead me not into temptation,
but deliver me from evil.
He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
Would it not be great—to feed himself and the whole world, too? "If you are the Son of God..." If? IF?! Just watch me!
How hungry Jesus must be. How weak. What does he pray? We do not know. We are not told.
Give me this day my daily bread
Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
Bread alone does not give life. God gives life. Jesus remains firm in his purpose. There comes a moment when Jesus feeds all with an outpouring of love.
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
Would it not be great—all the kingdoms, given to him? It would be so satisfying to solve the world's problems, all in an instant. It would not be God's way. There would be no love, but it would be done. I would give them all to you, O Lord. Your plan would be complete.
How tempted Jesus must be. How weak. What does he pray? We do not know. We are not told.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Only God. The only way. Jesus remains firm in his purpose. There will come a moment when all the kingdoms of the earth are gathered into God's love.
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’
‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Again this guy is telling him to prove himself? Seriously?
Would it not be great, though, to just show the devil and everyone else who he is? Imagine seeing Jesus fling himself off the Temple, only to be caught by God's angels! Who then would not believe that he is the Son of God? Everyone would know who he is.
Weak and tired and hungry, his feet rest on the top of the Temple, the most holy place in Israel. God's place. His Father's house. It would be so easy.
What does Jesus pray? We do not know. We are not told.
Who are in heaven
Hallowed be your name
If he flings himself down, would all the world be fed with an outpouring of love?
If he flings himself down, would all the world be gathered into God's love?
If, instead of flinging himself down, he lays himself down...
If, instead of flinging, he offers his life at the appointed time...
...would that not be the most tremendous act of love, following God's will the whole time?
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Jesus remains firm in his purpose. It leads to the greatest moment in history, a moment that begins to gather everyone into God's perfect, abundant love:
What does Jesus pray as he is tempted by the devil? We do not know. We are not told.
During Lent, this time of preparation, we want to remain firm in our purpose.
God will feed us.
God will guide us.
So each day in Lent we pray,