The Gospel. St. Matthew iv. 1.
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an excee- ding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
"Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." In the bareness of the desert, away from all distractions, the conflict becomes clear: the devil is forced to show himself. And as we share in the account of the temptations of Jesus, the conflict between good and evil is made clear to us as well.
“If Thou be the Son of God….” See how Satan works? It is always his first line of attack—to work against our conscience, to work against our hopes and prayers. First, Jesus is tempted to turn stones into bread. But the Kingdom of God does not consist in eating and drinking; so, we can understand that it does not consist in ways to make the world more comfortable and convenient. "Man does not live by bread alone, but by the whole Word of God." We live by His forgiveness and His saving act on the Cross. Satan also wants to challenge Christ’s devotion to the Father. Like us, Jesus has free will and must choose to remain obedient to the Father as we do ourselves. A constant battle in 2022!
The second temptation is to test Jesus’ divine powers: "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down." Satan has his own ways of distorting Scripture! But Jesus knew that God is not proved by some magic trick. This second temptation is to try to have God under control. Some people today would do the same thing—put God to the test. Will He answer my selfish demands if I pray hard for them? But the miracles of God are not to be measured by any human yardstick. "Thou shall not test the Lord thy God." We all know that the trials of life today come in strange and unanticipated ways—viruses, war, violence, and hatred! We shouldn’t be putting God to the test, nor should we be disappointed when our prayers are answered in His way, not ours.
In this season of Lent we are led up by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness just like Jesus. It seems that the world goes faster every day, and that we are increasingly taxed by its complex strains and anxieties. Lent reminds us that there needs to be a time for quiet reflection. We who are baptized in Christ are aided by the Holy Spirit in every step we make and every breath we take. During our baptism, we prayed: “WE yield thee hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it hath pleased thee to regenerate us with thy Holy Spirit, to receive us for thine own Children, and to incorporate us into thy holy Church. And humbly we beseech thee to grant, that we, being dead unto sin, may live unto righteousness, and being buried with Christ in his death, may also be partakers of his resurrection; so that finally, with the residue of thy holy Church, we may be inheritors of thine everlasting kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (1928 BCP)
Bishop Edwin Tompkins
During this Lent, find a special occasion to turn off the noise and find that quiet time to listen to your inner voice. Make your own special wilderness time and reflect on the Lord’s great victory in temptation.
Source: The First Sunday in Lent
Fr. David Curry
Christ Church Windsor NS, AD 2006