The Lenten season serves to remind us of many things, including our humanity (really, our mortality!) and our dependence on God. For most of us though, we have the tendency to first rely on our humanity and only turn to God when we have exhausted our human options.
The story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matt.4: Lk.4) is a good reminder to us that if we are going to have the victory over any temptation, we must learn to rely on God more than we rely on our own strength and resources.
In the Gospel accounts, the devil tried on three separate occasions to tempt Jesus to do things that would be displeasing to God, but would meet Jesus’ needs of physical appetite, material abundance, and notoriety and public recognition. The truth is if we are honest with ourselves, these are areas of need and/or temptation which most of us face on a daily basis.
As we follow the temptation narrative, we discover that just before Jesus was led into the wilderness, He was baptized by John the Baptist. At the baptism, God the Father said these words about Jesus: “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” I think it was this recognition by Jesus, knowing He was the Son with whom the Father was well pleased, that enabled Him to resist the temptations of the devil. Jesus knew He could rely of the Father to take care of Him and meet all His needs as long as He walked in obedience to God.
In commenting on the temptation narrative, Dr. Ruth Harley Barton poses the following question to us for this Lenten season:
“In what ways am I trusting something or someone other than God for security and survival, affirmation and approval and power and control?”
The question is challenging and uncomfortable if we will be honest, because many of us are caught up in pursuing things or people in life other than God.
The key to Jesus overcoming the temptations of the devil was His relationship with the Father. He had such an intimate relationship with God the Father that He could see through the devil’s attempts at deception. Jesus could see the devil was misapplying the scriptures in an attempt to mislead him.
As you reflect on the temptation of Jesus during this Lenten season, consider the question posed by Dr. Barton:
“In what ways am I trusting something or someone other that God for security and survival, affirmation and approval and power and control?”
And reflect on whether or not you are being misled by the devil by what or who you are seeking to meet needs in these areas of your life. When we neglect daily time alone with God and are not growing in relationship with Him, we are putting ourselves at risk to be misled by the devil.
During this Lenten season let us seek to develop such an intimate relationship with God that He would say of us, “This is my daughter/son in whom I am well pleased.”
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