Even though it leads into Holy Week, Lent ostensibly is about the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism. It's all about two voices.
The first voice of Lent is the voice of God. It makes one appearance in the story, at the very beginning. As Jesus rises up from the water, he hears the voice declare "You are my son, in whom I am pleased," and then it falls silent. After this unusual declaration, Jesus heads into the Judean desert and fasts to the point that he begins to starve.
The end of the fast is marked by a second, sibilant voice, one far more familiar to us than the voice of thunder. I can imagine this voice approaching Jesus like an old friend with a helping hand, eager to help him resolve the questions that have been perplexing him for nearly six weeks.
"If you are the son of God," the voice begins, and the game is on.
Anyone familiar with the story knows whose voice it was, and probably recalls the suggestions it makes to resolve the quandary Jesus found himself in. Have something to eat. If you can turn stones to bread, you have all the proof you need of who you are. Throw yourself off the Temple, and you can see if God will save you. Sucks if he doesn't, but at least you'll know. And lastly: Take the easy way out. I'll give you the whole world, you can set to rights everything that is wrong. You won't ever need to worry about these questions again.
Every temptation that comes from the mouth of Satan is one that cuts to the very heart of Jesus' identity. He rejects self-indulgence, and sets forth a life of giving that is focused on others. He rejects easy answers, and puts himself on a road where he and others around him will have to judge Truth on its own merits rather than appealing to hard proof. He rejects worldly power, and sets himself on the road that ultimately will lead to his execution as an enemy of the state.
Navigating the perils of the beguiling voice, Jesus discovered his own voice, and his life (and ours) would never be the same.
Copyright © 2017 by David Learn. Used with permission.