Matthew 4:1–11 (NRSV)
Chapter 4Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Verse 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. Verse 3The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." Verse 4But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Verse 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, Verse 6saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Verse 7Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Verse 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; Verse 9and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Verse 10Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Verse 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Not all goes well in wilderness places. Just as for the Israelites, so for God’s Messiah, and so for us in our life journeys, wildernesses bring times of testing and risk. Jesus knows this in himself and about us. So in the familiar disciple prayer he teaches us, he invites us to pray, “Do not lead us into a time of testing, but deliver us from the evil one.”
At each point of testing, Jesus fights off the temptation to grasp at personal power; he models the scriptural call to love God with one’s whole being and to rely on the word and promise of God to be present and sustain us. And so as we journey with Jesus, we can confidently pray to “our Father” for God’s kingdom to come among us, knowing that even before we pray, our loving God stands ready to hear and answer in affirmation of faithful and obedient children who come to their dear Father in prayer.
Our Father in heaven, give us confidence like Jesus to trust in your presence and to know that in all of our wildernesses you will be faithful to come to our aid. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.