Last week, God declares Jesus his BELOVED SON. We may wonder, what kind of perks does the Son of God get? What kind of desires get fulfilled when you’re Son of God?
When we start a new job, we wonder what else comes with it? A really good health plan?
A car? Travel expenses?
We know out in the desert, Jesus doesn’t get a supermarket sweep to fill up a grocery cart. We know he hasn’t asked for beachfront property or a full bank account. He hasn’t even asked for the POWER of a king. So, we wonder, WHAT are the perks if you are the Son of God?
Whatever he gets, we assume it’s got to be good. We assume that God’s SON is going to be treated really well. We understand power and privilege as every wish and desire are fulfilled.
Kings and queens get their every wish fulfilled – so let’s see what God’s SON gets.
We read in today’s gospel, that Satan thinks just like us! Satan offers Jesus, not a grocery cart full of groceries, but prods him with some desire. It says in the gospel, that Jesus is “FAMISHED.” Satan offers a suggestion – turn stones into bread, which sounds reasonable. You’re hungry so – EAT!
Maybe the better question to ask is not if Jesus will eat, but – from WHOSE hand will Jesus eat? Part of Satan’s temptation is for Jesus to partner up with him. That would mean Jesus would have to compromise himself, – by making a literal deal with the devil.
When Jesus says no to Satan, look closely at what Jesus is doing here. He is deliberately and consciously limiting himself to whatever power the Father wants to give him. If the Father is not giving him bread and fake power and ALL the KINGDOMS of the earth, then that’s fine with him. Jesus is dedicated to limiting himself to whatever it is the Father wants or doesn’t want to give him. Remember, he got into the water with the rest of humanity in the River Jordan. That is Jesus’ statement that he is ONE with us. HE is ONE with our suffering. OUR limits are HIS limits.
None of us can turn stones into bread, so neither will he. None of us can count on angels catching us if we jump – so neither will he. As for the last temptation, Satan doesn’t own the world – so he can’t give away what he never had to give.
Today, Jesus limits himself to whatever the Father gives him – but let’s be clear –
I say limited, but being limited to what the Father wants to give is not limitations. It is freedom. It is freedom from falsity and lies and fakery. It is freedom from partnering with evil that wants the best parts of you and me destroyed. Jesus has freedom from having a Satanic partner who lies, cheats and steals, and would expect him to do the same.
If Jesus doesn’t stand up to Satan then, it would be the Garden of Eden all over again!
Jesus has come as the NEW Adam, the one who finally STANDS up to temptation, once and for all, and tells Evil to LEAVE.
Very often we are divided. We would like the world’s goods – we DO! We LIKE the idea of absolute power, the magic tricks, power over angels. But in our heart of hearts what we really WANT is the FREEDOM we get in having a deep relationship with God. We desire the inner peace that comes from Christ dwelling in us.
Is Jesus the only one who is in the wilderness? All of us good people have a wilderness.
In our own wilderness, we are impatient, and let our impatience for fast results and gratification lead us, and we spurn God’s hand. In our own wilderness, we have a sense of entitlement.
Compared to the rest of the world’s population, we already have so many privileges, but we want more. We feel entitled.
In our own wilderness, we may be too ready to compromise, so as to not look foolish, God is so silent, you know? So we pretend God’s silence means God does not exist, and do what we want. In our own wilderness, we may be ready to short circuit our relationship with God, by ignoring the world’s hungry, pretending the poor got that way through their own fault. In our own wilderness, we may feel isolated and alone, but we fill it with chatter or the internet, or anything but listening in for God’s silences.
If we harness ourselves to falsity and lies and fakery we compromise our deepest selves.
Satan DOES tell Jesus truths. Jesus CAN turn stones into loaves of bread, but why should Jesus take orders from the Evil One? Jesus COULD get the angels to swoop in and save him, and as for the kingdoms of the world, Jesus already owns them, so this is where the fakery and lies become apparent. Why should Jesus take orders from the Evil One?
There is FAKE power and there is REAL power. Which do we have? Which do we WANT?
Jesus doesn’t grasp after perks that the Father doesn’t wish to give him. There are people who feel they don’t have enough power. They will grab with both hands what doesn’t belong to them.
Sexual predators are all about power. We have lived to see the fall of Harvey Weinstein and others like him. He used his victims to build a FAKE power base for himself out of the victims’ lives and PAIN.
On the other hand, when Princess Diana was alive, we saw how she would hold AIDS babies, and the world watched in wonder as she held them close, even if their diapers were wet.
THAT was true royalty.
Satan wants to find out if Jesus is a power junkie like he is. Will Jesus cooperate and will they form a partnership based in lies and compromises?
Jesus is committed to taking the human path
Forty days and nights is rough, but Jesus is committed to doing this human thing. We are convinced of Jesus’ divinity, but we may forget his human side. He is committed to the limitations of being human BUT human with an intense and deep and rich relationship of TRUST with God the Father. So, really – are these limitations?
His defense against Satan’s tricks is MORE trust and MORE faith in God, and using God’s WORD. Jesus is showing us that it’s not only possible, but he wraps himself in the Word. It’s a reminder that our righteousness comes from GOD. Tempted, Jesus leans on the FATHER. Jesus is such a contrast between Adam and Eve who cave in immediately. Jesus endures the deprivations in HOPE for the Father’s help. We’re like him when WE hope in God.
He replies to Satan, was “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
In today’s reading from Romans, Paul reminds that we are given GRACE through Christ. St. Paul tells us FIVE times Christ comes to HELP and ASSIST us. Five times St. Paul says grace is free gift.
There are times we all have to ask ourselves, who am I going to trust? If we trust – God – well, we know how notoriously SLOW God’s ways are. We know how SILENT God can be. There may be times when an ENTICEMENT is put before us, to circumvent God’s SLOOOOW ways so we can get what we want, quickly. This ENTICEMENT speaks to our sense of entitlement of SHOULDN’T I get what I want, when I want it? Don’t I DESERVE EVERYTHING that I want?
So much of the world’s goods are flashed in front of us on the internet and the television, we feel entitled to get SOME small part of it, right? We may have some of the world’s goodies – maybe we want more.
We learn patience when we trust GOD. Lent is a good time to question ourselves. Am I going to trust the Holy Spirit to do the leading, or go my own way and try to jump start things?
God’s SLOOOOW ways require patience. How do we put up with God’s silences when the world is jabbering at us to take with both hands, and skip integrity, and go straight to compromise?
We are BLESSED when we choose the path of God’s silences in the midst of the wilderness. We are BLESSED when we choose patience, when the world jabbers at us to not be a fool, and take the quick fix. We are BLESSED when we TRUST and let God feed us. THOSE are the perks we get for being a Christian.
At the end of the gospel, we see at last, the angels do swoop in, and they feed Jesus. Jesus, the New Adam, is on the move and leaves the wilderness, the testing place, mission accomplished. He has not come to enjoy perks, but to serve us.
Blessed are you Lord, God, for showing us the way through our wildernesses. Thank you for sharing your path with us. Thank you for sharing your Father with us. Give us the patience and strength to see it through this season of Lent during our times of testing, so like you, we may be of service to others. We pray in Jesus’ name.