Sunday 05 March 2017

Bible Book:

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (v. 1)

Matthew 4:1-11 Sunday 5 March 2017

Psalm: Psalm 32


If you really want to get away from it all to think, what betterplace could there be than a desert: sand, rocks, an occasionalpiece of vegetation or a scrubby tree, maybe a mountain in thedistance, and lots of open sky and solitude. It is made formeditation and built for a time of fasting. But solitude andfasting can do strange things to your mind. The first emotions ofgetting away from stress may be thankfulness and relaxation, butisolation leads to self-analysis, which can create positive andnegative thoughts and open the mind in unexpected ways.

Jesus had put himself into that position deliberately because heknew that he had decisions to make about his future. It was time tobegin his ministry and he needed guidance. However that also meantthat now he was open to temptation. Yet, given the way we dismissthe devil these days almost as a figure of fun, what reallyhappened at that tempting time?

The devil tempting Jesus in the desert didn't wear a red bodystocking and a cloak, or carry a pitchfork, or have a black beardand fierce eyes, and there was certainly no tail to be seen. Thatwould have given the game away far too easily.

No. The devil tempting Jesus in the desert was far too subtlefor that.

How the evil thoughts were introduced, we'll never really know.Whether they were dreams, or hallucinations brought on by hungerafter 40 days of fasting, or real words spoken by a personificationof evil, is irrelevant.

What we do know is that Jesus recognised that he could takeseveral easy roads to the fulfilment of his mission, yet thesewould not achieve the end of showing the sacrificial nature of thelove of God to all people.

Some might believe that we have reduced thedevil to an extraordinary image of a non-existent power.Maybe we need to be wary of that dismissal; remembering thateven though Jesus drove the devil from the desert, that power ofevil was intent on waiting, as an ever-present threat, for a moreopportune time - and still is.

To Ponder

  • How do you cope with solitude?
  • What is your idea of the devil, or the power of evil?
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