Our scripture this week is Matthew 4:1-11.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty 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 shall 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.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus was human, just as we are, and was subject to every emotion and want that we face. This is the reason we can trust Him, knowing He has endured everything we do and more. Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything He wouldn’t do Himself.
Reading the story of His temptation in the wilderness this week as we begin the observance of Lent (Ash Wednesday, February 26) should make us think about what Jesus was willing to give up for us. He came to earth to be one of us, knowing our joys and our sorrows. Jesus was willing to give up His glory in order that we might be saved.
What are we willing to give up for Him? During Lent people often deny themselves something they enjoy, a food or an activity. When this helps us focus on what Christ gave up for us, it is a good thing, but here is another thought – pick up something for Lent. Begin a new faith practice, such as an hour reading scripture at lunch or helping with dinner once a week at the local shelter, and think about making it a permanent habit. Jesus didn’t call us just to avoid evil, He called us to do good.
Gracious God, we are blessed by the gift of Jesus, taught by His example and called to go out in His name. Help us to resist temptation and work for the good of our neighbors. Amen.