Welcome to the first Sunday in Lent, the period observed before Easter Sunday which this year comes on April 16th. Hopefully since Easter is in mid-April it’ll be little warmer down at Indian Lake for the Sunrise Service this year. Let’s hope so! The two scripture texts read today have much in common (Matthew 4:1-11, Psalm 32). Both texts describe an individual’s struggle in relation to God and I’d like to explore that.
I read somewhere that the famous “Biggest Loser” TV show fitness guru Bob Harper, who was in tip top shape, had a massive heart attack. How does that happen? It seems terribly unfair, doesn’t it? An expert in health and nutrition spends so much time and energy getting it right and yet, there he was in the throes of a heart failure. How like that is Jesus in the Gospel today? Jesus had faith beyond which you and I have yet to experience, I think we can all agree. You might say after years of prayer and Bible studies Jesus was spiritually fit, an expert. Yet, his endurance was challenged while in the middle of a desert wilderness and he was subject to all the temptations a person could possibly encounter. Scripture tells us he was “led by the spirit” to be there yet when the devil showed up Jesus must have thought to himself, can’t a guy catch a break even out here in the wilderness where nobody else is around?
Imagine fasting for forty days – how difficult that would be! If you have had certain medical procedures, perhaps you fasted a day or two prior and that in itself is not easy. In my 20’s, I fasted from solid food and just drank juice and water for a week and my boyfriend made it to 10 days but it made us both weak and rather squirrely in the head and I certainly would not recommend it. Jesus did 40 days of fasting and during that time encountered all manner of temptation to distract him from it. That old devil just kept coming at him. First the devil attacks his hunger, which must have been exceedingly painful, by reminding Jesus he had the ability to turn the rocks into biscuits. Or bread it actually says, but to me the temptation of warm buttermilk biscuits seems more difficult to withstand. However starving he must have been, Jesus resisted.
Next, Satan dramatically flew him up to the top of a temple where he can see everything for miles around and dared Jesus to test his relationship with God by jumping off the pinnacle and allowing God to save him from dying. Jesus sticks by his faith and angrily tells him to cease testing God’s presence and ability. Jesus knows God is with him and does not need to prove anything to this wily old coyote, Satan. You might think by this time the devil would just give up but instead he drags Jesus all the way up to the top of a mountain and offers him the world by pointing out everything in sight and saying it could be his “if only” he would deny God and worship the d