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Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you’,

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall 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 glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Matthew 4:1-11

Here we move past the initial 40 day fast of Jesus in the wilderness, and look at His final confrontation with the tempter. As we said last time, these should be expected, not only was Jesus tempted at this particular time on the 40th day, but I believe that He was tempted throughout His time in the desert.

He would have been hungry, He would have been tired, He would have been hot.

I’ve always wondered what exactly He did out there for 40 days? He would maybe have found a cave near some water and sat there praying – that’s it, just praying, and doing nothing else. There was no one else there with Him, so no talking to people, He didn’t need food, so no need to buy or cultivate anything to eat, He wouldn’t have had any scrolls to read, so, just sitting there, praying.

I wish I could do that.

I wish that somehow I could just be. To just be able to be alone, without worrying about what people are doing, without worrying what people might say or think, without having to always be distracted by some other work, an email, a ringing phone, a notification. It is hard for us in our modern world, I think, to just be. To sit and not have to feel like we need to be doing anything. We feel like we always have to be on – I know I’ve felt it, preparing a sermon, sitting and praying, or reading a commentary, or some other book, and I feel guilty! I should be talking to people, visiting people, doing something that can be seen!

To sit and contemplate who we are, and who God is, and how we relate to each other is a difficult thing in a world that is constantly moving and that is constantly pushing us to move along with it. We have something to learn from this experience of Jesus in the wilderness, I think. Here is something instructive for us, that we can use as an example, as something to strive towards and emulate. Jesus’ greatest moment – the declaration of His Sonship by the Father – was followed by a period of deep formation and communion with the Father, and that was followed by an intense period of testing by Satan! A time of great victory, a ‘spiritual high’, followed by an extremely tough time of harsh testing, but Jesus had prepared Himself for it.

It should be a regular habit of ours to take time out, to totally disconnect from the current world – for a short time, not retreat forever – to turn off the phone, to close the computer, to withdraw from the people around us, not because they are bad, or we don’t love them, but rather, to re-centre ourselves on who and what is really  important. To reconnect with god again, to sit in His presence and be ministered to by Him. To be able to drown out all of the noise and hear His voice, to seek strength and direction, to hear how He loves us, to be gently told where we might be needing to change the way that we are living in a certain area, and to gain a deeper understanding of Him.

In doing this we must realise that afterwards will probably come some sort of test, some sort of temptation, but that in being refreshed in the presence of God, we will have prepared ourselves to deal with it, we will have strengthened our relationship with God to the point where we can recognise and stand up to the temptations that come at us, and by His grace and power, to overcome them.

So, my challenge to you is to find some time – even if it’s only a couple of hours – but find some time this week to just be. Just be, you and God. It’s totally worth it!

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