Today, we heard the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, but—what happened just before that?
Jesus was baptised, that’s what. This is how Luke tells that story (3.21–22):
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
In the Gospel stories, “a voice from heaven” is the Voice of God. God says to Jesus, “You are my Son…”
And just over the page, the Devil says to Jesus in the wilderness:
If you are God’s Son…
“If” is a big word. The seeds of doubt are trying to be sown. But Jesus responds with words of Scripture. He says,
It is written…
One does not live by bread alone.
Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.
Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
Jesus counters temptation with Scripture in the wilderness. He is God’s Son, and he comes through unscathed.
Today, we baptised E and E, and in doing that we declared that they are united with Jesus Christ and therefore daughters of God. And we can say the same of every baptised person here today.
But sooner or later, everyone who has been baptised finds themselves in the wilderness. Am I really a daughter of God? Could I be part of God’s family? Surely I’ve done wrong things, I’ve doubted too much, I’m not good enough. Soon it becomes It’s a load of hooey, I don’t believe all that kind of thing any more.
When Jesus was baptised, God declared him to be God’s Son. And we have authority given by God to declare E and E to be adopted daughters of God.
We’re declaring this right at the beginning of Lent. Lent is the forty-day period that we set aside for self-examination. Why is Lent forty days long? Because Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days.
So in this time of self-examination the question is not, Are E and E really children of God? but How are God’s children meant to live? How are we going to teach E and E?
In Christian Tradition, there are three ways we mark the time of Lent: prayer, fasting, and giving to those in need (or almsgiving).
In more contemporary language, these things are all about reassessing our priorities. How do we reassess our priorities in Lent?