Written by Adam Hardy - Associate Minister (Reader) of Rotherfield with Mark Cross
When you receive your copy of this magazine, we will now be well into the period of Lent. A period that is based upon the forty days and forty nights that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. Many of us will have committed to giving something up for Lent or taking up something new and many of us will be tempted away from that sacrifice or commitment.
So, I wanted to share with you some thoughts about the temptations that Jesus experienced in the wilderness. The first temptation:
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”.
Jesus would have been suffering from great hunger having fasted and this period of Lent is often a time where people give something up. Usually, it is something that under ordinary circumstances is not too healthy for the individual concerned: Alcohol, Chocolate, Smoking even Facebook or Twitter.
The origin of giving something up for Lent comes from the early Christian Church, a church still under Roman persecution. In those times, becoming a Christian was a serious, life-changing, decision and candidates were expected to go through forty days and forty nights of purification and enlightenment before their baptism. Jesus is in fact going through a similar process ahead of his ministry and embarking on a time of purification and enlightenment preparing him for great tasks ahead. Jesus replies:
“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
He is effectively telling the Devil, that if he follows the path that God has set out for him, then his hunger and his thirst will not be a problem. He can continue to walk the ‘life’ that his Father requires of him.
Let’s now look at the second temptation:
“If you are the Son of God 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”
The Devil will do anything to tempt Jesus into using the power he has been given for a wrong purpose Jesus has been entrusted by his father with the salvation of the whole world and knows that he must be strong against the same temptation or be cast out from his Father’s love and house.
It is very easy in modern life to be tempted to misuse our power and positions, all to regularly we hear of people who have abused powers that have been entrusted to them. In a world like this we must take extra care to live our lives in the way God wants us to lead them. Jesus replied:
“it is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test”.
Jesus starts to use the Devil’s own weapon against him. He knows that now the Devil fears what is to come, Jesus’ victory over Death itself.
The Third Temptation:
‘Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give to you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.’
Jesus is offered the whole world in return for switching sides.
“Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’.
As we go about our daily lives we are tested to see if we can stick to our faith and not be tempted away from the path that God has chosen for us. We must face our own series of tests and keep the Lord’s word and promise in our hearts. St Paul writes in his First Letter to the Corinthians:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to Man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
God will bring triumph to those who remain faithful. In Jesus case his Father sent his angels to attend to him. If we go forward with faith in our hearts and minds, then the Lord will watch over us and send his angels to attend on us, when he knows we will need them.