Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain the scene that prepares Jesus for His public ministry – His temptation. Right after His baptism, we find Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasts for forty days. This type of self-denial helps Him to focus intently on God and His mission. After this extended period of fasting, the devil confronts Him with some tempting offers. But Jesus rejects them all, offering His reasoning from scripture.
This story has become the basis for the forty days of Lent. Christians are invited during this time to fast (or find some other form of self-denial) as we focus more intently on prayer and scripture. Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian pastor and author noted that Lenten (at 40 days) is about one-tenth of our year. He suggested that making Lent a special focus for us in prayer, practice, and scriptural reflection is like tithing a tenth of our days to God. Do you have the time and the determination to give God some special attention for the next 40 days?
God, thank You for the moments and days of my life. Accept what I offer you during this season as a holy sacrifice. In the name of my Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.