“. . . [Jesus] was tempted for forty days by the devil.” Luke 4:2a (CEB)
I’m actually relieved that Jesus was tempted. Being tempted is part of life, and I give in to temptation WAY more than I should. Reading the story of Jesus’ temptation from the gospel of Luke reminds me that he was also human. He could be and WAS tempted. Of course the BIG difference is that he was able to stand firmly in his identity as the Son of God and not let the devil goad him into giving in.
Yes, I DO wish I could do the same thing, and there are times when I can resist temptation, but there are many other times I give in. Of course, the majority of those days when I give in to temptation have to do with eating. Underneath the desire to eat a large bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and walnuts is something else that is crying for attention.
That’s the big difference between Jesus and us. Jesus knew himself, knew who he was, knew Whose he was, and was confident in his identity. We may be confident in a lot of things, but there are still things that draw us away from being baptized children of God.
Baptism is the start of our identity. This is where we are named and claimed by God as God’s Beloved child. It is the beginning of our journey with Christ. Baptism is a way of life, not just a ritual from a church worship service. This is where we are enfolded into God’s family and loved with a love beyond all understanding.
So, as God’s baptized people, our calling is to grow in faith and share that faith with others in the way we live our lives. Jesus had just been baptized, and he was led into the wilderness by the Spirit where he encountered the devil. He was there for a long time; the Bible says forty days and nights – a long time. He didn’t eat, and he was subjected to the devil’s tantalizing offers of food, power, and safety. Yet, Jesus didn’t give in.
How I wish we could do that! I have learned over the years that we can’t even deal with what causes us to overeat, have addictions, misbehave, or whatever we do until we can name what it is inside that is bugging us. After years and years of attending Weight Watchers meetings, some of what I have learned sinks in sometimes, and I ignore it other times.
Maybe it’s because I just don’t want to deal with it. Yet, once I have eaten the ice cream (a huge bowl!), I don’t really feel better! Instead, I feel guilty. Temptation is a lie. It offer the idea that something else is far better than what God has to offer us. Maybe we can learn a little from Jesus about sticking close to God and trusting that the Spirit won’t abandon us when the times get tough. Maybe we just need to name our issues and turn them over to God, trusting that we will be shown the way to deal with them other than giving into temptation. Maybe.
In what ways are you able to resist temptation?
How do you trust that God is with you during those times?