He Was Tempted (Luke 4:1-13)
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordon and was led the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” So it was …the Father’s Will led his Son into temptation. In becoming incarnate, Jesus took on our weakness, and that meant becoming susceptible to temptation, to having to struggle to put his Father’s will before his own desires. Like all humanity, he had to learn obedience. Just as muscle cannot grow unless pushed to the point of tearing, so virtue cannot grow unless it is tested.
Depravity, the absence of virtue, can be achieved by merely giving way to what is easy or expedient. Virtue though, can only exist as a state of resistance. Faith cannot exist outside its battle with doubt. Nor can Hope have meaning, unless despair is tearing at one’s heals. And love is ever challenged by selfishness. These virtues are the summit of human potential, the image of God. But, we are born for virtue, not with it.
It is the nature of water to run downhill, and it is the fallen nature of man to sin -to give way to the desires of our Self, rather than to the desires of our God. The End and Source of all virtue is God. Those who find virtue find God, and so it is that Satan wars against us. The virtuous then, are warriors: ever engaged against Forces vying for their allegiance, ever saying no to the downward path of least resistance.
These forces are both natural and supernatural. The natural can be from within, as in sensual needs; or from the world, as in the selling of greed. The supernatural, as in the Devil testing Jesus, can be direct, as in planting a temptation in the mind; or indirect, as in orchestrating our sinful tendencies with those of others –with a synergistic effect toward evil. In the end, how we label or diagnosis sin is immaterial. The heart of the matter is whether we resist sin, or embrace it.
The Forty Days in the desert wilderness is a snapshot in the life of Jesus, in the life of all humanity. Every day we are engaged in battle. Easy Street is no one’s address. Selfishness, Pride, Fear, Resentment, Suffering, Despair and Doubt –these are the temptations, the gauntlet through which all must pass, by which all must be tested. We will overcome or be succumbed, pass or fail.
Our Forty Days will rage till Judgment Day; seeming to never end, then seeming to have been a thousand days ago; seeming to blot out the sky, then bringing tears of joy with wisdom and light. It is the Gift of Life, the Mystery of the Cross, the Redemption of Sin, and our Transcendence to God.
Lord Jesus, that you are my Savior, who is like me in all ways but sin, who intercedes for me On High, is my cause for Hope. This Hope delivers me into Faith. And this gift of Faith, opens my heart to know your Love. Now when I am tempted, like you, I too can cling to the Word of our Father. I can now, believe the Promise of your Truth, more than the scream of my senses, more than the hunger of my dreams.
Though my eyes may see an abyss waiting to swallow me, I know my feet are planted on Rock. Though I feel the Suffering of this present mortality, I rest secure in your whispered immortality. Though my temporal wantings refuse to die, your Mercy calls me to Life. Your Gift of Peace carries me to Tomorrow.Though the Enemy surrounds me, I shall walk through them, as though they are shadows on foggy mist. For you have born the weight of my sin; your Cross has broken Death’s power. It is for me, but to follow your footsteps, to learn obedience, to trust only in you.