“In this holy season of Lent we reflect on the foundations of our spiritual life and in our Gospel today we see Jesus in the desert fasting and praying for 40 days and 40 nights and he is hungry and the devil comes to tempt him. ‘Turn these stones into bread.’ But Jesus resists that temptation, but before we go into those temptations, let’s look into that first reading from the book of Genesis because that’s really the foundation of the Gospel. In our reading from Genesis we see that God has created mankind and put him in the middle of a beautiful garden and in this garden there are delightful fruits for mankind to taste and to eat and the ancients used to think that those delights really represented all of human endeavor that it represented the arts and the sciences and all the other parts of our human life, family life, friendships that we are to taste of all of these. What does God want for us after all? That he wants us to live life and to live it to the fullest Jesus said and so that means looking at our fullest potential, tasting of the fruits of the garden, but there is one tree in the garden in which there is a prohibition and that is the tree with the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. We are not to eat of that fruit or that tree. What does that mean to the tree of knowledge of good or evil? To the ancients it meant knowing everything because everything was either good or evil and who could know everything but God alone and so the temptation was really to be equal to God to be independent of God to be our own law giver and disregard the laws of God himself. That was the tree that was prohibited for us to partake of and it was that tree that Adam and Eve were tempted to eat and they failed the test. They disobeyed God. Fast forward to the desert where Jesus is and he is tempted to turn the stones into bread because he is hungry. The temptation for us would be to satisfy our desire for pleasure to satisfy our desire for food and for drink and for sex and in fact, to make them the most important part of our lives. Whatever is more important to us than God becomes our god and we worship him, but Jesus says, ‘Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ The next temptation, the devil takes Jesus to Jerusalem and takes him to the highest tower, the parapet of the temple and tempts him to cast himself down and he would receive then all the glory and acclaim. The angels would keep him from hurting himself and so everyone would know how important he was and they would give him glory and so our temptation is to live for glory to live for acclaim to live for fame to make that the most important thing in our lives, but Jesus said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ And the third temptation, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. He says, ‘Bow down to me and I will give you all these kingdoms.’ The temptation for us is power whether it is power of wealth or political power or power in our homes or families in our relationship to make power the most important thing in our lives, but Jesus tells the devil, ‘The Lord is God alone. Him only shall you worship.’ And so we find ourselves tempted as was Jesus as were Adam and Eve, tempted to sin tempted to be our own rule to be equal to God after all that’s what sin is isn’t it? To disregard God’s rules for our own to make ourselves independent of God. That is our temptation. The temptation of pride that is there in every sin and so Jesus offers us this lent his grace, grace to resist these temptations and to turn our desert into a garden once more.
I have a prayer that I’d like to share with you. I entitled this prayer, ‘The Test.’
Human Jesus just like me
Hungry, tired and tested be
In the desert you faced the test
You were tempted, you the best
Turn stones to bread your temptor said
How can we be truly fed?
Will things material satisfy?
The lowly the spirits will qualify
Rule the world without the cross
Why suffer you such pain and loss?
Must I choose also ‘tween peace and strife?
Rule now over my heart and life
Jump now of the parapet
Trust God’s angels will form a net
You’re always there to support me
But I too have responsibility
Human Jesus, Lord divine
In my testing help me find
That you will go to any length
Jesus Lord to give me strength”