Today is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent. Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness. He fasted, was tempted and tested in faith. After this he began his public ministry. Lent is a time when we focus more closely on our relationship with God. This year during Lent we will read through the gospel of Matthew. Each day you will have selected verses to read, as always. You may also choose to read an “expanded” selection, so that by Easter, you will have read through the entire gospel. May God bless you in this holy season, to know that the Lord is with you and strengthening you in your daily walk of faith.
Expanded reading: Matthew chapter 1 – includes a genealogy of Jesus and his birth
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “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.”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Satan recognized Jesus from the very onset of his ministry. He knew Jesus was God and had the power to turn stones to bread. He also knew Jesus was fully man and a hungry one. His first temptation was directed at the weakest point. He followed with the temptation of ego to prove he was the son of God. He then used the temptation of power, a common weakness of mankind. What could Satan give Jesus that Jesus hadn’t created?
It was Satan’s temptations that caused the fall of mankind from the beginning, to make it necessary for Jesus to come and bring the plan of redemption. It is fitting that in the beginning of the process of bringing that redemption, Jesus, unlike Adam, stood firm against the temptation to sin. With every tactic of the devil Jesus replied, “It is written.” Like Jesus, we need God’s word to recognize Satan and not fall prey to his schemes. He sees our weaknesses. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8.
Our scripture today tells us Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit. He was fasting as a sacrifice to His Father. We know from other passages when Jesus was off alone He was in prayer. Like Jesus, we need to be in prayer, to be informed by the Holy Spirit, and be so busy doing God’s will we don’t have time for the devil’s temptations. Will we fall short? Absolutely! We are not capable of being sin-free on our own, so we praise God for His goodness and mercy in sending us a savior who took our sin on himself.
The best we can do is to continue to learn and to walk in the light Jesus brought to us. To continually strive to love Him more and be His body by showing his love.
Lord, we praise you for showing us the way, the truth, and the life. We know the devil is busy in this world and many are being devoured. Help us to tell that devil “Get away from me!” Help us to gain more knowledge of you word, to grow in our relationship with you, and to share your love with a world that so desperately needs you, one person at a time, one day at a time, one opportunity at a time as guided by your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.