All I desire
Heaven 17 sum it up, temptation, desire, giving in to what you want to do – whether it’s good for you or not…
You know you want to, it won’t matter really, just this once
the little voice, that so easily can lead you astray.
In the whirlwind that is Mark’s gospel, in 6 short verses we cover Jesus being baptised, tempted and beginning his ministry. If you want a fuller version of The Temptation, you can read Matthew or Luke’s version. But what Mark does is give us the broader picture.
Jesus is baptised, and God declares:
You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased
This is a high moment. God is confirming what Jesus believed about himself, and what John knew he was waiting for – Jesus is The One, God’s Son is here, living in the world.
But it is straight from that high, that Jesus goes into the desert and he is tempted. Jesus, the Son of God, is not above temptation. He has power, authority and being able to do what he wants dangled in front of him, he has a choice to make.
To me, it is good news that Jesus is tempted. If being the Son of God doesn’t preclude you from being tempted, then we shouldn’t worry when we are tempted to things too – the differenced is how Jesus responded to the temptations that came before him. We can face temptation every day – a juicy bit of gossip to share, a bit of glory offered, a piece of power that can be grabbed, a wrong path to take… Seeing those temptations is not wrong – it is how we react to them that can get us into trouble.
Perhaps Lent offers us a time to reflect on how we respond to temptations in our life. What should we be doing? And what should we be steering clear of? Jesus took time out, faced his demons, and ultimately triumphed over them – that was the foundation on which he could build his ministry. He knew what his temptations were, the things that could lead him from the path he was called to, and he had put them in their place. In doing that they no longer held any power over him, they could not surprise him and trip him up.
But perhaps even better news, is that Jesus returned from the desert, from winning his own personal battle with temptations, and went to spread the Good News. Jesus didn’t keep away from anyone else because he was now too good for them, he didn’t set himself apart lest anyone lead him astray – he came to them, and shared the good news of God – offering them the opportunity to repent and believe.
So even to those who’ve got it wrong, who have given in to temptation, there is an opportunity to stop, turn round and go in a different direction.
Jesus is not aloof to our struggles, but meets us in them and offers a different way. Will we take it?
The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!
Thank you Lord
that Jesus identifies with my struggle,
that he has been there and faced it –
and ultimately triumphed over it,
sharing that with me
in the opportunity
to repent and believe –
to turn to you.
May I know your power and presence
in the struggles of life,
and your forgiveness
and a new start
when I get it wrong.