A Word for this Week - Pastor Bill Mugnolo

Week of March 11-17, 2019: “Forty Days and Forty Nights (Part 1)” … Luke 4:1-13

The number forty is a number often used in connection with a significant milestone such as a birthday or an anniversary. In the Holy Bible, the number forty is so often connected to a time of trial, testing, and teaching. We might think of the forty days and nights of rain that fell as part of the worldwide flood in Noah’s day. Or of Israel’s forty years in the wilderness. Or of Jesus teaching His disciples for forty days in between His resurrection and ascension into heaven.

Then, there was Jesus’ forty days and night of being tested and tempted in the wilderness from which we derive the forty days, excluding Sundays, that make up the Season of Lent. Over the next three weeks, from St. Luke’s account, I’d like for us to look at each one of the temptations that Jesus faced. Here, we’ll see how Jesus handled this time of trial and testing and what it teaches us today.

First, we see how Jesus was led into the wilderness “full of the Holy Spirit”. By nature, Jesus was one with the father and the Holy Spirit. But, having been humbled in His human nature, He only assumed the full empowerment of the Spirit upon His Baptism (Luke 3:21-22). We too are given the full empowerment of the Holy Spirit when we are baptized (Titus 3:5-6).

Once in the wilderness, Jesus was led to fast for forty days and nights—just as Moses was once led to do (Exodus 34:28). After this, Jesus was hungry. Here, the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. This was a temptation that only He, as the Son of God, was subject to as He alone among humans was in a position to turn stones into bread.

Likewise, when we are tempted, it so often has to do with our particular position in life. Someone involved in finances, for example, might be tempted to embezzle money—as Judas Iscariot did (John 12:6). Or a law enforcement official might be tempted to use excessive force. Or an artist might be tempted to use their talents to produce a work that is obscene. Or a parent might be tempted to harm their child through discipline that crosses the line into abuse.

But Jesus Himself resisted the temptation that was particular to His position as the one who has made all things (John 1:3). He rebuked Satan not by a use of His divine power, but through the Word which is available to us all in our fight against temptation. Quoting Deuteronomy, the account of Israel’s own wilderness journey, Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” So too are we sustained spiritually by “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord “(Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4).

Next week, we’ll look at Our Lord’s second temptation in the wilderness.


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