Friday of Lent I – Luke 4:1-13

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Alex could have taken it and gotten away with it. No one would have been able to connect him to the fact that the money was missing. He knew enough about banks and hiding money that it would have been a simple thing. The window of opportunity was short. As he reflected, this fact was a good thing. He did not know how long he could have resisted the temptation. The urge was persistent and seemed to be eroding his resolve. But he did resist and when the opportunity was past, he was glad that he had resisted. He realized afterwards that he would never have been happy with stolen money.

Twenty years later, Alex was further up the corporate ladder, facing a young man across the desk in his big corner office. The evidence was laid out on his desk. He had a bit of admiration for this man. He was bright and the scheme had almost worked. A random check by an observant outlying office manager had exposed his theft. Yet, Alex’ admiration was overwhelmed by another set of feelings. This young climber had not resisted the temptation and he had broken faith; he had stolen what did not belong to him. Bilious disgust rose in Alex’s throat. He had so much potential, how could he have ruined it? He would be fired, face possible legal charges, but Alex had no sympathy for him, only a growing sense of contempt.

Do you see what Satan does? He is crafty, with a thousand tricks up his sleeve. If we resist the temptation, he will immediately turn to our strength and redirect his attacks there. Alex resisted but his resistance became a spiritual pride which forgot just how narrowly he had escaped when he was a young man. Satan is patient and nabbed both the men who sat in that corner office.

Satan overcomes us all. As Paul says, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), except One. There is One of us who has not succumbed. It is Jesus. His victory over the tempter in that Judean desert is the victory which we could not win. But now the victory has been won. Satan’s power has been broken. Christ lends that victory to you today so that you can resist temptation. Enter the fray with confidence. Jesus’ love will never judge your failures. And strive with His aid and Spirit to strengthen you. God delights in your victories, great and small, over the sin which infects us all.

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