The Temptation of Jesus, which we read about in today’s passage, occurs immediately after he is baptized and a heavenly voice proclaims, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” The writer of Luke is perhaps warning us that we are at risk of being tempted when we are exuberantly confident of a path we are on, perhaps especially when we are embarking on a new stage in life. We have made our choice, the discernment period is over and we bound ahead, rather than continually return to the wilderness to listen carefully for God’s voice.
It is at these times when we can become too sure of ourselves and our pride can interfere with our being open to new learning or novel information. In my work as a psychologist and a graduate school professor, I spend agonizing hours with people as they discern whether a cherished path needs to be relinquished and a new path needs to be found. In the scripture passage we read for today, Jesus stays the course and the guideposts he uses are instructive. Do not be guided by materialism or covetousness for “Man does not live on bread alone.” Do not be guided by a desire for power or influence but rather “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Do not abdicate responsibility for your life but be in daily discernment about your path lest you put “the Lord your God to the test.” With these guideposts we can discern whether we are on the right path; or whether unexpected changes are necessary and whether we need to embrace these new, and perhaps necessary, changes with grace and determination.
Prayer: Dear God, may we continually return to the wilderness to ensure that the voice which guides us is yours. Amen.
– Sarah Hedlund