After this the Spirit led Jesus into the desert so that the devil would tempt him. For forty days and nights he went without food, leaving him utterly famished. Then the tempter whispered in his ear, ‘If you are God’s Son, order these stones to become loaves of bread’. But Jesus replied, it is written, ‘we do not depend on bread alone for life, but on every word that proceeds from God’s mouth’. Matthew Chapter 4, Verses 1 to 4.
For many, the season of Lent is about one thing, temptation. Specifically, it is associated with overcoming it. Giving up some bad habit perhaps, denying ourselves a specific luxury, or turning over a new leaf and starting something positive. The reasoning behind all this is the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, during which he was tempted to turn stones into bread, to bow before the Devil and to test God’s love for him by hurling himself off the highest spot of the temple.
But what does it all mean for us? All too often it is seen as a stick to beat ourselves with, an example of some stern discipline that we must follow at all costs and God help us if we fail. If Jesus could do it, then so should we. But is that really the point?
The temptations of Jesus was to take the easy path rather than the hard, to fit in with the way of the world, rather than ‘Walking the Way’ of the cross. It is because he refused to give in that gives us a reason to hope and rejoice, despite our faults and failures. Jesus took the road of costly self-sacrifice, the road that led to death, in order to give us life and he did so, not because we deserve it, but precisely because we do not! Because we are loved as we are, warts and all.
Lent speaks of the God who longs to forgive, not to condemn, to bless, not to punish.
God bless you all.