Eternal God, we have been led by the Spirit to places unfamiliar, to wildernesses barren, to areas uncomfortable and frightening. We are surrounded by temptations; we are hungry; we thirst. We have wondered if truly the Spirit led us, or if it was the devil. Meet us in our desert, we pray, and strengthen us to overcome every sinful craving and temptation, through the power of your Word and the guidance of the Spirit. Amen.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Here the Son stands alone, embattled in the wilderness. There are no disciples yet—at least not with him—and all communities are left behind. He stands before the Tempter without human companionship.
There is a time for such trials. We seek, in this season, to celebrate friendship, the Kingdom community, but we do not thereby ignore necessary solitudes. There are times we stand naked before God, and there are other times we stand naked before Satan; even our Jesus followed Moses and Elijah and John into the empty wilderness. But even our Jesus needed restoration to community; “angels came and attended him.”