The Devil’s first temptation was to convince Jesus, who was hungry, to turn a stone into bread
It is the season of Lent and traditionally it is a time when we reflect on our own shortcomings and focus on spiritual growth. Around the 10th century, Lent became linked to Jesus spending 40 days in the desert where he was tempted by the devil.
Now, whether or not you believe there is a real devil, we certainly know that evil is very real and present in our world. Evil exists. And the temptation of Jesus was about three things that evil seeks to do. Ultimately, evil wants to destroy our relationship with God, and it does so in three ways: by separating us, by denigrating us, and by making us feel insecure. And that’s exactly what happened to Jesus.
The Devil’s first temptation was to convince Jesus, who was hungry, to turn a stone into bread. It seems innocuous enough, until you remember that Jesus was part of the Holy Trinity – inextricably linked to the Father and the Spirit. What the devil was trying to do was say, “Hey, you don’t need the other two. Act alone! The Devil wanted to divide the Holy Trinity. Jesus reminded the Devil that, “One does not live by bread alone.”
The devil’s second temptation was to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down and worship him. The Devil wanted to make the King of all creation inferior to himself. He wanted to denigrate Jesus and reduce the status of the Holy Trinity. Jesus replied, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”
The third and final temptation of the devil was to convince Jesus to throw himself from the top of the temple because God had promised to protect him, however, Jesus was secure in his relationship with the Father and the Spirit, and when you are in a secure relationship, you don’t need to test it. The Devil was asking, “Do you really trust the Father and the Spirit?” Jesus answered, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
The temptation of Jesus was to deny his membership in the Trinity, to deny the status of the Trinity, and to deny the relational security of the Trinity. And today the devil also wants us to be separated, belittled and insecure.
Today, evil wants you to be separated from God and from others. Evil says to you, “Do you really need God? You are doing very well and you are doing very well on your own. But that’s a lie. We cannot do this thing called life by ourselves. We need God’s love, and at the very least, we need the love and support of God’s love expressed through others; people who will walk with us, support us, encourage us and comfort us.
Today, evil wants you to have low self-esteem and low self-esteem. Evil tells you, “You are nothing and a waste of space. You’re not worthy to be called a Christian. If people knew what you think, say and do in private, they would reject you. Again, that’s a lie. We are beloved children of God, with inherent worth and precious worth. No matter who you are or what you have done, God appreciates you and welcomes you as his child.
And finally, evil wants you to feel insecure. Evil wants to sow seeds of doubt in your heart and mind. Evil says to you, “Are you really loved? Are God’s promises really true? You are not really saved and you are part of the family of God? This is another lie. You are loved – more than you can imagine – and have an inheritance from God greater than all the gold in the world. The gift of life in all its fullness is available to you here and now, and forever.
We are all broken. We all make mistakes. We all don’t live up to our own standards, let alone God’s, and evil wants you to be separated, belittled, and feel unsafe, however, God wants you to be connected, honored, and feel unsafe. feel safe. Therefore, our church communities should be places where all can encounter God, be respected, uplifted, and find mutual love and trust.
Jesus’ response to the Devil was to say, “No! And we have to say “No!” too.
On Sunday in St. Mark’s we celebrated International Women’s Day, and I was reminded that all people of any age, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, ability, language, or cultural background are welcome in the family of God. In fact, this is so important that I have added this statement to the front page of our website and to our Facebook page as well.
In this season of Lent, if you are feeling lonely, distant, weak, worthless, or anxious, may you find a church family who will love you and walk with you. May you know the joy and peace of God as the Holy Trinity serves you through the kindness, support, encouragement and comfort of others. And if, and when, the Devil comes knocking, can you tell him to take a hike (or use two words of your choice)!
Rev Gav is the pastor of St Mark’s Anglican Church. Visit stmarks.bm