Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil… (Luke 4:1-13)
As the weather moves slowly again toward Spring, we also take up another season of Lent. This forty-day period, preparing our hearts and minds and lives for Easter allows us to reflect again on the Lordship of Christ in all that we are as followers of His.
He wants every part of the house of who we are, the entry hall, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the bedroom, the basement, the bathrooms, the dark closets, the garage, and the keys to our home and car. Each of these reminds us of parts of who we are. Each of these parts of the house speaks to our diet, our time, our health, our entertainment choices, our openness to others, our hospitality, and our constant acknowledgment of Jesus’ presence in us by the Holy Spirit, and by us and with us.
The three temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness for the forty days and nights of fasting remind us to not take shortcuts. Fasting is to remind us that there is more to our lives than our meals, snacks, and treats. We trust God with our urges of many kinds. Jesus was tempted to turn the stone into bread, which was not bad in itself. But Jesus was showing His dependence on the Father and chose to refrain from eating in that mission and calling. So the devil was trying to get Jesus to take a shortcut from the hunger to the fullness, from the hard season to the time of victory without the pain, suffering, and yearning. But God is calling us all to go through the difficulties of this season to arrive eventually in His Kingdom that will have no end. Currently, we see the beginnings of such a kingdom, but then we will see Him face to face.
The second temptation has the devil tempting Jesus to take the shortcut to becoming the king of all the kingdoms of the earth without the struggles of His ministry and mission, ending in torture and death. The devil promises to give Jesus what Adam and Eve gave to him, the kingdoms of this world. But again Jesus chooses to only follow His Father and not worship that which is not God. He does not take the shortcut to authority and glory through trusting the devil, because this is no shortcut but a short circuit of what God had planned. Only worshipping God through the wonderful and difficult times of this life brings about God’s purpose for your life.
The third temptation has the devil tempting Jesus with the ultimate shortcut of taking His own life, that is, throwing Himself down from the highest point of the temple. The devil quotes Scripture that indicates God will protect His Son. God is the Lord of life. This is true. But the falsehood is in believing that taking your life will somehow have a good outcome. Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide knows how big a lie this is. Jesus rightly quotes Scripture saying to not tempt the Lord or test Him, particularly by suicide.
So we have a longer road ahead of us than some of us thought. The forty days of testing seem to go on forever. But remember it is only a season, and that season does end. Meanwhile, in the midst of that season, in the midst of Lent, we trust the Lord anew with all that we are. Don’t be tempted by the shortcuts.