Luke 4, 1 – 4
Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University. For the Bible passages, he used NRSV for the Old Testment and his own translation for the New Testament readings. To read passages from the King James Version, click here.
Something to read
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, went back from the Jordan; and he was led by the Spirit in the desert, for forty days, being tempted by the Slanderer. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were completed, he was hungry.
The Slanderer said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.' And Jesus answered him, 'It is written, "It is not by bread alone that the human being is going to live".'
Something to think about
We cannot spend the whole of Lent looking at ourselves in self-centred misery (or self-centred complacency, come to that), and over the next three days the readings follow Luke's narrative of the temptations with which Jesus was afflicted in the desert before he started his ministry.
As Luke tells the story, there are three such temptations. The first, today, is a double temptation, first to prove to a sceptical opponent that he really is the Son of God, and second to use his powers for his own selfish ends: "Tell this stone to turn into a loaf of bread".
We mutter, nervously, "Surely there is not too much wrong with using our own powers to make sure that we have something to eat?"
But that is missing the point: the point here is that we live in God's world, as Jesus says, quoting Deuteronomy; and Luke's first hearers would have been able to fill out the quotation, "but by every word that comes from the mouth of God".
Our powers are given us to serve God and our sisters and brothers, not for our own selfish needs.
Something to do
Have a look, today, at the way you live. Is there anything at the moment in your life as a son or daughter of God that represents a selfish use of the powers that God has given you? What might God be inviting you to do about it?
Something to pray
God our Father, we know that in Jesus we are your sons and daughters, and we ask you today to give us the grace always to serve you unselfishly in our brothers and sisters, especially those who are hungry. Amen.