Matthew 4: 1-11
Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours -lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
We are reminded every year of these forty days in our time of Lent – you would wonder how any human could last 40 days of fasting but, no matter, the number 40 represents a journey – a movement from one place to another. From where to where?
Jesus must enter the desert feeling pretty full of himself; an experience of God is never something to be taken lightly; ask any of the saints. To realise that you are the Beloved Son of God, after years of making the most of what you have, must have been extraordinary. Did the scales fall from his eyes? Was he overwhelmed with the possibilities that lay before him? Did it all seem so clear?
The devil is daring; telling God how to be God and then challenging him to act. Not realising that in his weakness and powerlessness
Jesus now understands his freedom; in admitting that you cannot do it by yourself; in needing relationships and intimacy; in needing his Father; because God is not over us but within us; God is not Power but Love; as St Paul reminds us: ‘if I do not have love, I am nothing.’ And God knows, we are more than that.