Blessing comes with temptation. Every time we receive some encouraging sign of God’s work in our lives, we run the risk of becoming spiritually cocky. Of all those who came for baptism, only Jesus gets the Holy Spirit stamp of approval. Doesn’t it mean he has arrived? That he no longer needs to be vigilant in self-examination? No. Blessing comes with temptation.
John is out in the wilderness preaching repentance and inviting people to mend their ways—to change the way they live. As a sign of people’s commitment to change their lives, John baptizes them in the river.
When John baptizes Jesus, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit says in effect,”You get what I’m talking about. You are OK!” And then Jesus gets put to the text. Instead of setting him loose on the world, the Holy Spirit leads him into the wilderness where the not-so-holy-spirit tempts Jesus to trust himself. If he has the Holy Spirit’s endorsement, why shouldn’t he use his power to turn stones to bread, to exercise authority over all of creation, to demonstrate his power by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the Temple. The temptation to self-reliance is strong.
If Jesus had said yes to the devil, he would have become an agent of the old order of greed and self-interest that God was leading people out of. By saying no the devil, Jesus powerfully demonstrates that he serves as an agent of a new way of life.
God, lead us from death to life. Help us know ourselves as you know us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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