Tests and Temptations – Reflection for the first Sunday of Lent

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. 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.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 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.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 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,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Luke 4:1-13

800px-Temptations_of_Christ_(San_Marco)

Lent is the season in which we repent of our failure to be the people God calls us to be. We think about what is really important in our lives. We re-prioritise and turn back to God. Intentionally we try again in our relationship with God, with one another and with the planet too.

So there are two questions to ponder and to pray. What is the one thing that stands between me and God? What is the one thing in my life that this Lent I need to change?

The story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness reminds us that there can be many different things that stand between us and God. ‘Command this stone to become a loaf of bread,’ cries the devil. Here Jesus is tempted as many are tempted with a life of plenty. ‘Have authority over all the nations of the world.’ Here Jesus is tempted as many are tempted with a desire for power. ‘Throw yourself from the temple.’ Here Jesus is tempted as many are tempted with a life of celebrity. We can all recognise that the temptation, indeed the desire, for plenty, power or celebrity might well come between an individual and God.

Repentance and change is always possible. Each time the devil tempts Jesus, Jesus responds by turning to God and God’s values and concerns. As St Augustine writes in his Confessions: ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.’

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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