Faith In The Desert Of Temptation
Temptations of Christ: Fra Angelico
Scripture tells us today that immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1~13) The Holy Spirit may have led Jesus there, but the devil was waiting for Him. He was waiting to tempt Jesus in His faith.
As we begin Lent, we too are being led into the desert, and the devil waits for each of us as well. Our faith may be tested in any number of small or not so small ways.
In today's Gospel we read about the three ways the devil tries to tempt Jesus.
The First Temptation:
The devil knows Jesus has not eaten in 40 days and figures in His weakened state, he can get Jesus to prove He is the Son of God; turn these stones into bread. It is as if the devil is saying to Jesus, "Why do you need to go hungry? After all you are the Son of God, use Your power to make life easier and more comfortable for Yourself." But Jesus' reply demonstrates His faith in His Father. "Man does not live on bread alone, but from every word from the mouth of God."
For us we may hear similar things from the devil. "The world has so many ways to make your life easier and more comfortable. Why should you struggle or be inconvenienced in any way?" If we draw on the grace of our faith, we will see right through that as Jesus did, for we do live on the Bread of Life, the living Word spoken by the Father.
Jesus Brought to a High Mountain Place: James Tissot
The Second Temptation:
The devil now shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and tells Him: "Here they are; they are Yours for the asking." I often wonder that even if Jesus had taken the devil up on that offer, he wouldn't had followed through, but rather just laugh and pride himself that he got Jesus to cave in. But Jesus being God could not do this, so His reply demonstrates His faith in His Father once again, not faith in the material idols of the world: "You shall worship the Lord, your God and Him alone shall you serve."
We are shown the luxury of idols every day in our culture. Things that will seem to make us all important, powerful and comfortable. Money, power, sex, drugs are some of the idols being worshiped today. Again, if we draw on the grace and strength of our faith in God we can easily see through these false gods and turn to the Father through Jesus with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to worship and serve God in this Blessed Trinity.
Temptation of Christ: Ary Scheffer
The Third Temptation:
The devil leads Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and once again says to Him: "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. After all, God promised to send His angels to save You." Jesus sees this for just what it is~blatant testing of God!
I look at my own life and often wonder how many times have I tested God in my presumptions and assumptions instead of drawing and relying on my faith and God's Providence in my life.
After all this, the devil seems to realize he's got nothing left in his arsenal and leaves Jesus, but as the Gospel says: "...for a time." Yes, the devil would return again some three years later at the final moments of Jesus' life on this earth.
Throughout our lives, if we are living and practicing our faith, we can expect to be tempted. The devil will come and he will go~ for a time, but we can never let down our guard, for he will be back.
As we journey into the desert of Lent, strengthen our faith in You and You alone so that when the devil comes to try to lure us away from You, we will turn to You in Word and Sacrament for the grace to rely on and trust in Your love and care for each of us. Help us to see through the passing things of this world to the only thing that really matters~life in and with You through Your Son, Jesus our Lord. May His life in us and ours in Him lead us to you.