So I won’t be preaching this Sunday – our Lay Leader, Gus Hulcher, will be leading our Laity Sunday service, but here are a few reflections on this week’s scripture from our Gospel of Luke series.
One of the coolest things I’ve ever learned about this passage comes from the first sentence, not even that: it’s incredible what is packed into the beginning of this passage:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…”
Jesus is filled up with the Holy Spirit and straight, or forthwith (as they say on Blue Bloods), he’s driven by the Holy Spirit into isolation/temptation. Before he was dealing with trouble, Jesus was filled with the right kind of thing- the good stuff as it were – the power and presence of God. So that there was no room for anything else – like evil or poor decisions – in Jesus.
Not only is Jesus full of the Holy Spirit but the driving force behind his next adventure, his temptation itself, is that the Holy Spirit puts him there. The Holy Spirit sets him up to be tested, to be prepared, to be made ready for what is to come. This readiness couldn’t or wouldn’t happen in front of a bunch of other witnesses or other people involved but would happen while Jesus was forced to deal with his situation on his own.
That’s all in the first salvo of this story.
Sure, Jesus will be tested: first with hunger and instant gratification, then with glory or authority, and finally, with comfort or security.
Jesus rebuts each piece of temptation with Scripture. He knows whose he is and who he is. Jesus knows his history and his strength, and he refused to be badgered by the devil himself. (Of course, the devil left until a “more opportune time” – one has to assume that Jesus didn’t think this was ‘over.’)
So, when we’re tempted:
-Are we prepared, filled by the Holy Spirit and surrounded by the presence of God?
-Are we being tested and prepared, or are the temptations things we’ve fallen into because we don’t know the Scripture, aren’t pursuing the will of God, and generally move about willfully rather than faithfully?
-When we do face temptation or trouble, where do we go? Is it to Scripture and the community of faith and prayer, or what do we rely on for comfort and support?
I pray that this new year will find us closer to God in prayer and in community, and that we will grow us people who stand against temptation because we are filled with the Spirit!