Monday April 3, 2023
WHEN THE DEVIL HAD FINISHED ALL THIS TEMPTING
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Forty days, three temptations, and three vocationally charged answers later, the devil walks away from the battle. In other words, the devil calls it quits on the game—but is not calling it quits on the season.
There are seasons of relief in our battle with the adversary of our souls—and for those, we can be grateful. When we fall to temptation, the season that follows is often filled with strife, anxiety, conflict, and even full breaks in life as we know it.
But when we face temptation and overcome it, and the Lord and we have seen our faith, “of greater worth than gold,” tested and proved genuine (1 Peter 1:7), there may be a time of reprieve when we can regroup and get ready for the next phase of ministry.
Jesus has been baptized, and his vocation and personhood have been affirmed. He goes into the wild to face temptation, to be tested, as to his deep ownership of that vocation. And he will come out of the wild ready to preach good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, and “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).
The devil threw his best at Jesus, aiming to get him questioning if he was indeed the Son of God; to get him reconsidering the use of his power to serve himself, or the status of his belovedness to skip suffering and inherit glittering kingdoms; and to test his relationship with God (his God-security).
At every turn, Jesus has resisted the enemy by using the Word of God, the story of the saints, and by reinforcing the Father’s love for him by recalling the truths of his promises. So there is an end to seasons of temptation, seasons of testing, and we can trust there is another side when we feel trapped on one side of a storm.
Today, is there a season of temptation or testing you feel you are in, that is pushing you to the edge of your strength and challenging your capacity to bear it?
The Lord says there will be an end to this season. Be strong and courageous, recall and reclaim his Word, and there will be a time when, we trust and hope, it is over and there is some reprieve. Just remain faithful through it, no matter how long it takes.
Have you ever been stretched to your limit in your trust of God? How did you emerge on the other side?
Lord of the Wild, there is distress in seasons when we are pushed to our very limits. We may be in one right now, and we choose to stay the course without lingering in doubt or challenging your faithfulness. Take us to our limits, that we may become limitless in our trust in you for the years to come. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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