Devotion for February 28, 2022

Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”

Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

This story is familiar to me. Having grown up in church I heard it repeatedly. Jesus, this warrior who faced down the Devil and all his cleverness. Jesus, the one who could withstand temptations, showing me how to stare down my own temptations. Yet I’m not sure any more today than I was hearing the stories as a child and teenager that these are the takeaways of this passage.

Three times Jesus is tempted. Three times he responds by quoting the prophets. His life, his first tests of that life and his responses are affirmations of the wisdom found in the prophets. He rejected material goods. He rejected power. He rejected testing God. He rejected celebrity. He rejected making the story about himself. How do we miss that Jesus is rejecting so many of these things for which people and cultures are celebrated? These rejections are grounded in his faith, and they are the foundation for how he would challenge empire, greed, and oppression.

Imagine if we lived our lives by the three responses Jesus offered:

  1. One does not live by bread alone.
  2. Worship the Lord your God and serve only God.
  3. Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

This Lenten season, may these words of the prophets, echoed by Jesus serve as a lens through which to follow Jesus to the cross.

This Monday devotion is brought to you by Campbell University’s Center for Church & Community.