Genesis 2.15–17; 3.1–7
Every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice. Lyman Abbott
The First Sunday in Lent begins as usual with the story of Jesus’ temptations. This is how Jesus begins his ministry, tempted by the devil in the wilderness. I’ve seen the Judean wilderness; if you’ve seen it too, you’ll know it’s pretty desolate.
I wouldn’t want to spend forty days there. Certainly not without food.
Yet Jesus didn’t go to this bleak place by accident. He didn’t take a wrong turn on his way back to the Galilee after his baptism. Matthew tells us ‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’. Luke’s Gospel also says the Spirit ‘led’ him; Mark says the Spirit ‘drove’ him there.
It was deliberate; Jesus was there for a reason, and that was to be ‘tempted by the devil’.
Now, Jesus had just been been baptised; the Spirit had come upon him, and a voice from heaven had declared
This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
‘This is my Son…’
But instead of receiving a right royal welcome as God’s beloved Son, Jesus is ‘led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’.
Strange way to treat the Son of God.
The Royal Road for the Son of God is the descending way of humility.