“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry” (Matthew 4: 1,2, NKJV).
The son, startled by the familiar voice, turned and locked eyes with his father. He had not known the father was watching. The father, ever concerned to ensure his son’s good comport, gestured toward the son with a seriousness demanding the son’s attention.
And isn’t this what God wishes from His children, to keep the focus on the Father? Isn’t this the Christian observance of Lent, to yield to the Father? Isn’t this what Jesus did in the wilderness, fast and pray and yield to HIs Father? Three times the devil tempted Jesus. Three times Jesus refused and spoke of the Father by what is written.
Lent is the time Christians remember Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Some remember their own wilderness. Some have yet to experience one. All are asked to remember their temptations and seek forgiveness for their sins. Lent is when Christians pause from the all too easy rote recitation of faith and daily living and are called to a deeper faith beyond the symbolic gestures of fasting. Facing God during Lent, and this is what I am asked to do, with anything less than earnest attention to my weakness and God’s grace suggests a falseness remains inside me. Redemption (the whole of Lent) demands a permanent fast from this falseness.
But I notice more. Jesus was obedient to God with every temptation. I get it was Jesus. If He had succumbed to the perceived human good Satan offered him, He would not be Jesus. But in the more, in the being of His life, in His obedience, I see the lesson I am to learn. The lesson calls me to more. Faith calls me beyond symbolism and rote recitation and child’s play. I am called to live the changed life.
But there is still more. “It is written” Jesus repeated with each temptation. And here the scripture tells me our Lord was prepared, possessed a foreknowledge that when temptation came He could in all human weakness and spiritual strength say, “Away with you, Satan!” This is the strength I pray for in my weakness, the reason for daily devotion and preparation. Lent asks of me to lock my eyes on the Father, to prepare for the temptation that comes. And it always comes. And should not my fast, my dependence on God, my redemption, find permanence in my life?
George MacDonald wrote, “A man may see visions manifold, and believe them all; …something more is needed—he must have that presence of God in his soul of which the Son of Man spoke, saying, ‘If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.’”
“For those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).