Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)
Chapter 4Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, Verse 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. Verse 3The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Verse 4Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" Verse 5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. Verse 6And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. Verse 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Verse 8Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Verse 9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, Verse 10for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' Verse 11and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Verse 12Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Verse 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Have you decided to give up something for Lent? The tradition of fasting in this season is an ancient one, and today's reading reminds us that Jesus, too, fasted for 40 days. In the Bible, the number 40 often represents a time of transition between one era and another—like the 40 days of Noah's flood, or the 40 years of the Israelites' wandering in the wilderness before entering the promised land.
In the early church, the 40 days of Lent represented the transition between the old life and the new life in Christ through baptism. New Christians spent the season fasting and studying the Bible, and would be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Today, you might consider what new life God is calling you to prepare for. How is your fasting—or your feasting on God's word (after all, "one does not live by bread alone")—preparing you for the new life God has in store?
God, you called me out of death and into new life in my baptism, and you call me again in this season. Let me hear your call, and teach me how to respond. Amen.