Lenten Reflection: Luke 4:3-4

God tests Jesus in the wilderness and Satan tempts him to satisfy his desires by inappropriate means.

One need is hunger. It would seem that satisfying hunger should not be characterized as inappropriate. Food is a created good to be enjoyed.

The Slanderer (Diabolos) suggests that Jesus should create his own food. If he really is the Son of God then he should provide his own bread. He should satisfy his hunger. There is nothing that prevents him from doing this if he really is the Son of God.

Jesus does not respond by saying, “I could make bread from these stones if I wanted to.” Rather, he addresses the Slanderer’s presumption about what the purpose of his wilderness experience is. While the Slanderer wanted to minimize the wilderness experience by reducing it to physical hunger, Jesus reminds him about its real purpose.

The purpose of the wilderness is not a physical endurance test as if acetic practices are about how much a human being can physically endure. Rather, the wilderness is about a hunger for God; it is about depending on God for strength for the soul. Jesus is in the wilderness to clarify his mission and deepen his dependence on the Father.

The wilderness reminds us that we can’t live on bread alone. Our material ambitions–from food to clothing to housing to video games–cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the human soul. When we live at this level we ultimately feel empty and this emptiness will kill our souls. When we live at this level, the mission of God takes a back seat.

In the wilderness we hunger and thirst for God. Fasting reminds us that the fullness of life is not found through pizza and beer, but eating the bread of God. Authentic life feasts on communion with God and embraces, by God’s strength, the mission of God.

Fasting leads to feasting. When we fast from the idolatry of  instant gratification, we learn to feast on God for true life.

3 Responses to “Lenten Reflection: Luke 4:3-4”

  1.   tdrinnen Says:

    thanks for these thoughts John Mark

  2.   Ronald Says:

    I like Kraybill’s exposition of Jesus’ temptation by recounting the cultural background that Jesus came from–i.e., the poverty in Galilee. I agree with Kraybill concerning this matter that the devil has come up with the best temptations that he could throw at Jesus in order to deter him from going to the cross which ultimately will save all those who believe which also would eventually become the defeat of the Tempter. With the destitute friends and family of Jesus in Galilee (people whom he saw struggle financially as he was growing up), there’s a huge temptation to become an economic Messiah–i.e., Jesus the Great Provider. He perhaps witnessed friends of his not having food on their table every meal or his neighbors joining gangs of robbers just to provide for their family. Naturally if he could provide an endless supply of bread, folks from Galilee would then hail him as the promised Messiah, saving Israel from the injustices of the rich and powerful living in Jerusalem; but not the kind of Messiah that would save humanity through the cross. For Jesus (and according to the devil’s arguments), giving food to the hungry is definitely not a sin; thus, he may have been given an alternative choice. The challenge/testing for Jesus was for him to stick with his God-given calling or selfishly do things his way. Fortunately for us, he said, “Your will be done.”

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