“If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
“I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here”
Lent is a time for choices. What will we do to discipline our lives, to follow Jesus more closely, to reach for perfection in the Christian way of life? More than those choices, we face the choice of how hard we will work at what we choose. How will our choices affect our decisions?
Jesus was drawn into the desert to undergo the discipline of fasting and prayer and in doing so to draw closer to His Father. He chose to follow His Father’s will and decided to do all the things His Father required.
The desert or wilderness was the place in which the Prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and John the Baptist, as well as Jesus, the Son of God, lived for at least a time, if not most of their lives. The rugged, arid conditions of the wilderness became their molding ground. Alone, they wandered through deserts, forests and mountains, awaiting God’s command. In the rugged desolate country they were set apart for God’s special work. In the wilderness God fashioned their character, making them obedient vessels, who then went forth to carry out God’s will.
For most of us the wilderness (dense forests, deserts and mountains) are only for the adventurous in spirit. It can be vicious to all forms of life – human, animal and plant. Only the most hardy can survive. No soft disguises of civilization can survive here. Wilderness life hones the nature of those who venture there. In the wilderness our true substance is exposed, and we are purified to do God’s will. It is not a place for the foolhardy, or the faint-hearted.
At the end of Jesus’ desert time He was tempted, put to the test in a very severe way. He is offered everything the world might think would fill a person after forty days of fasting and loneliness – food, power, and security. Having been purified and made one with His Father through the desert experience He was able to make the right decisions in the face of these very strong temptations.
Our Lent is a time in the wilderness, to withdraw a bit and draw closer to God. Our Lenten choices and practices, and our choice of how hard we work at them, prepare us to make right decisions when faced with temptation. They mold us, set us apart, and make us obedient servants who decide for God’s way.