Lenten Devotional

February 21, 2018

All Day

Category: Adult Education

Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness

After his baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. He was led not by Satan, but by the Spirit. God the Father wants Jesus to be tested; he uses the Enemy as a tool. God does not tempt us, but he often allows us to be tempted.
This is a sobering and hard truth. We can be put in harm’s way. Tests can go wrong, we can fail them. The Father approved of the Son, (Matthew 3:17) installing him in his service after his act of obedience and humility (baptism, identifying with sinful humanity), and now the natural next step seems to be a hard test. The tests here are tailored to Jesus’ mission. Very likely none of us will be offered the whole world or attract crowds with a spectacular miracle.

Rather than giving the usual interpretation of what the temptations mean for Jesus, let’s focus on our situation and try to understand the tests in our lives better.

How we deal with a test shows us clearly what is really in us, it brings out our best or our worst. God is all-knowing, he already knows our hearts. The test is for us so that we may get a realistic mirror image, devoid of the usual vanity, self- flattery and the cutting of slack we love so much. It can cruelly rob us of illusions about who we are, how little we really care about God and the spiritual things, and how childishly self-centered, proud and spoilt we are. In a time of testing we fail. (Luke 8:13-14)

Jesus warned his disciples, especially Peter, that Satan would test them. They spectacularly crashed. This helped them to think realistically about themselves and to become hungry for real, personal growth. Just hanging around the best preacher of all times and witnessing many miracles obviously had not been enough to profoundly change them!
We don’t want to hear this. What kind of “Good News” is this? God is supposed to protect and shield us from all discomfort and suffering!

The time of Lent is also an earnest re-focusing on the eternal and spiritual truths that are so misunderstood and ignored by our materialist society. James 1 says that we should expect tests and embrace them. 1 Peter 6-7 reminds us that our faith is built up by pain and trials, but that the results are extremely precious for all eternity.   

Prayer: Dear Father, we are like a road under construction. Please help us to trust in your goodness when you work with a jackhammer on us, renewing our foundations and our inner selves.  Open our spiritual eyes so that we get the perspective of eternity and use our tests to deepen us.   Amen.

 

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