Luke 4:1-13 MSG
Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread." Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.” For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.” Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?” “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’” That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
Each year when I was in Junior High School we took the Iowa Standardized Test. We practiced filling in all the little circles, how to read the test and avoid the more tricky ones that were simple if one understood.
After all the preparation it was test time. Eventually, a question would arise that if it was read carefully was easy to answer. After each one, I thought: "Ha! You didn't trick me". Today's story is similar to this. I believe I can assume that Jesus was prepared for the temptations he had to face. The first temptation came after being without food for 40 days. Whether this was an actual forty days or if forty was representing a really long time, Jesus was past hungry. He had to have been dreaming of food for some time and yet even in the face of such hunger he was focused upon the bigger picture -- that bread may feed the body but God's Word feeds the soul. With each temptation, Jesus' lessons from his youth came back as he quoted Scripture after Scripture. Whether it was food, power or authority, Jesus did not waver from his focus on following the will of God above all things.
In our lives we are also tempted with many things and we also have been prepared to withstand the temptations. Still, that word single-heartedness is important here. When we have our heart set firmly on following God, it is much more easy to stay in tuned with God's will. However, when we become focused on other things, it is so much easier to not see clearly what is right in front of us.
Through prayer and reflection we have the optimal opportunities to regroup, refocus and recharge as we keep our eyes set on the will of God as we worship the one God, Creator and Ruler of all things, Savior and giver of Hope.
Prayer: Almighty God, you center us upon your Word. You remind us of your constant care and redirection in our lives. Help us to not put you to the test. We need you to help us to see you more clearly and follow you only. May all of our inner struggles not keep us from your will. Amen.
Rev. Laura C. Kelsey, Author
Rev. Kelsey is proud to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Pontiac, MI. Together with the faithful and loving worshipping community at FPC. she enjoys sharing God's Word with others, working to help folks experience God's love and discern their direction in life, and lovingly reach out to the greater Pontiac community.