Every year on the first Sunday in Lent we hear about Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. This time came immediately after his baptism and preceded the beginning of his official ministry. We know very little about his time in the wilderness. We don't know much of what happened, what he did there, what he was thinking, what he was doing. All we are told in the Gospel accounts is that he was tempted there.
What we can say for sure is that he retired into the wilderness for a reason, the same reason we are invited into the wilderness every Lent (which is, in fact, the same reason many of us retreat into a literal wilderness every once in a while): to reconnect, to think, to feel, to ponder, to consider where we may be spinning our wheels, to discover where we may be able to apply our energies more effectively.
I expect that that is indeed what Jesus was doing in the wilderness. Having just committed himself to his mission, he would then have to figure out how he was going to proceed. What were the ideals of his mission and ministry to be based upon? How was he going to demonstrate the Kingdom of God to others? To whom would he direct his message to? How would he gather people around his message?
He was probably tempted to follow different avenues, avenues which had been tried before with, it must be admitted, some success. He could try to provide for the material needs of his followers (signified by turning stones into bread). He could try to become a person of political power (signified by bowing to Satan who represented the forces of the world). He could try to dazzle with charismatic words and deeds (signified by throwing himself from the highest tower counting on angels to save him).
This is just one of many possible interpretations, but I wish you blessings on your own Lenten journey as you reconnect.
My sermon this week was based largely on the Gospel passage for the week, Luke 4: 1-13.
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