Name something that tempts you….as in, REALLY tempts you. Something that causes you to go weak in the knees trying to resist. Money? Power? Fame? Immortality? Gossip? Drama? Chocolate-covered caramel bars? CHEEZE??
The Greek myth of King Midas comes to mind when I think of temptation. He loved and worshipped gold. Gold was his kryptonite. He was granted a wish that everything he touched might be turned into gold. What joy! What bliss! Until the very food that he needed to survive was turned into gold and he couldn’t consume it. He cursed his power then, and sought relief from that which had once tempted him so strongly.
Today we read about Christ’s forty days in the desert where he was tempted by Satan. This reading falls in the first week of Lent for a reason. We are challenged to face the things that tempt us and have the power to pull us away from observing a Holy Lent.
Mark 1 (Common English Bible)
9 About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
An oversimplification of this passage would point out that God finds happiness in all of his children at the moment of baptism. He experiences joy when we commit to a life of resisting evil in all of its forms and promise to walk a righteous path. Temptations don’t come from God. He is not trying to ensnare us, but rather will send angels to take care of us in those moments of weakness….if we allow it. Sometimes our addictions block us from receiving help.
These 40 days of Lent are an exercise against temptation…the temptation to give up on our Lenten disciplines. The temptation to step off the path of righteousness. The temptation to succumb to evil in the form of gossip, sin, anger, betrayal, and shutting out God. The temptation to withhold forgiveness.
14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
Jesus calls us to something better. He invites us to change our hearts and lives. We are encouraged to trust the good news of his life, death, and resurrection. Don’t be tempted to do anything less….that’s how Satan wins.