Thursday, March 7
Yesterday, I talked about the significance of Jesus feeling famished – that he didn’t try to distract himself from his desire for food. Jesus has gone out into the wilderness to face specific desires that arise within him which if he were to seek to satisfy would take him away from the path he feels God sending him on. He needs to be conscious of those desires.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'”
At his baptism, that immediately preceded the temptation story, Jesus heard the voice of God call him “my beloved son.” If this is his deepest identity, what does it mean for how he should live in this world? Each of the devil’s temptations, invite Jesus to see himself, as entitled to more than ordinary human beings.
In tempting Jesus to turn stones to bread to satisfy his hunger, the suggestion is that as God’s son Jesus should be exempt from human suffering. “Hey, Jesus you deserve special treatment. Why should you have to deal with hunger, fatigue – indeed, a mortal body that will one day die?”
But Jesus casts his lot with the rest of us human beings, fully embracing the human condition. This is what he understands God’s will for him to be. He comes to meet us where we are, even when were we are, is a difficult place to be.
Interestingly, back at the River Jordan Jesus made a similar choice: Rather than stand aloof and watch the masses repent – he entered the water with all these other people struggling to find a connection with God.
In this world, the normal trajectory we human beings aspire to is to climb a ladder of privilege and status. Following his understanding of God’s will, Jesus will move in a different direction.
One reason people fast – perhaps a part of why Jesus fasted – is to be in solidarity with the millions of people who routinely go hungry. In fasting, one chooses to feel something of what they experience without any choice in the matter. It can move a person to act in compassion to help feed the hungry.
One of the problems with living beyond our means is that it leaves us short of financial resources that would be available to help those less fortunate than ourselves. How might we live a simpler lifestyle that would give us the financial freedom to help those who go without what we so easily take for granted?