Heading Home: Walking with Jesus to the Cross — Day Five


Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Lent isn’t truly Lent without reading this powerful narrative at least once. We meet Wilderness Jesus in this text, Wandering, Solitary Jesus, the Jesus who had just heard from God before entering this wild and desolate place. The one who chose to follow the Spirit’s lead and walk out into that wild, all by himself, nourished only by what happened by the riverside. That place where the love of Father God descended, speaking words of love, praise, and recognition over the Son’s newly baptized body.

Those words were food and drink for our Jesus, exactly what he needed as he stepped out into active ministry, the pathway that would take him to the cross. So if we are going to walk that pathway with him during these 40 days, we must line ourselves up. And Jesus began his journey with this encounter.

We will, too. The Tempter is not imaginary but very, very real. And I can feel his breath as I set aside time to think/pray/write/imagine. He knows our vulnerabilities very well, indeed, even as he knew Jesus’s soft spots. Have you ever thought about that? Jesus chose to be vulnerable, to become human, to experience the siren call of popularity, adulation, power. Right here, right now. in the rocky, dusty landscape of the wild, wild land. I am guessing that these very things — the physical hunger, the psychological hunger, the political hunger — were ever-present sources of temptation for our Lord. But he learned something so true and so strong out there with the rocks. He learned to use God’s word to fight back, to fight off, to turn away. And maybe most important of all, he knew who he was and he refused to let go of that truth. 

Do you know who you are? Whose you are?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Remind me who I am, whose I am, and keep me centered in that powerful, life-changing truth whenever and wherever temptation shows its ugly, fascinating head. Thank you.

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  1. I just finished writing about a temptation that couldn’t wait to raise its ugly head while I’ve barely got my toes wet in the water of Lent. Yes, we need to know how to use God’s Word against the evil one, and to submit completely to God’s will.
    Blessings, Diana!

    • Pesky ole temptations! Praying for you today as you face into whatever it is that wants to take you off track.

  2. Margie Bicknell says

    Diana, I never thought about the 3 different temptations…the physical, psychological, and political as the 3 points of the “snake’s” head. This puts a different reflection of this passage out there for me. And we do need to battle these lows in our lives with the Word of the Lord.
    Yesterday, at bible study, the Matthew passage of Gethsemane was read. And one of the ladies said, “Christ’s human side prayed for release from the coming storm. He asked his friends to pray with him, and they slept. He cried out to His Father to release him…and heard nothing, and his friends slept.” Then she said, “But, He took up the Reason He Came, to redeem the world, and said to them, ‘Rise up, let us go, here comes my betrayer’.”
    Lent is truly a time for renewed reflection of Christ’s purpose for me, and how I can truly be his hands and feet.

    • I had never pegged them in exactly those words, either, until I penned these words. LOVE the words from your Bible Study friend and agree with you that this is a season to think again and anew about the life and work of our Savior. Many blessings as you continue on this road, Margie.