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LK 4: 1-15
1st Sunday in Lent

LK has a great emphasis on Jesus being 'full of the Holy Spirit'. In his (Jesus') case it comes from inside himself ('conceived by the Holy Spirit'... 'who proceeds from the Father & the Son') even though LK shows this confirmed by outward signs. Personally, I much prefer MK's 'the Spirit threw Jesus out' into the wilderness. That at least gets us away from the soppiness some people seem to bathe (or daub?) the Spirit with. Not at all! The Spirit is God's Vigour at work on us as much as God's anything else at work in us.

I have a problem, speaking personally, about the way we persist in translating & talking about Jesus' experience in the wild- erness as his 'temptation' when we know full well the original word also means 'testing'. I don't argue that Jesus wasn't tempted, but that to focus on temptation exclusively gives a more negative spin than the (to me) positive spin of 'testing'. Most sermons I hear about the 'temptations' end up pretty negative, while the evidence is clearly that they were, though tough going, a positive experience for Jesus, & through him, ours can turn out positive for us.

Still speaking personally, I've learned during my spiritual journey, to take the 'devil' more seriously since I came to recognize 'it' as that dark side of myself. That side of me that's turned so far away from God that I've blocked God's Light from illuminating me, limiting (ha ha!) God to throwing me only as a shadow of what I am called to be. (I remember shocking a conservative member of a congregation I was visiting (&, I must admit, enjoying it - ah, temptation! ah, testing!), when, preaching on this passage, I said I shaved the devil every morning! That way I at least treat the devil with respect, but not the fawning submission I hear so often from people who seem to think the devil really runs the show! What rot! How many of us, deep down, use the devil as an excuse for our own lack of moral fibre? Jesus never hid behind the devil. Never ever!

Every now & then we hear the police say that the motive for murder almost always comes down in the end to money, sex, or revenge. Something like that. When I ponder the events in the wilderness, It seems they sum up 'sin' in much the same way, if under different headings: 'Sin' comes down to a) cheating (1st test), b) grabbing for power (2nd test) or playing to the crowd (3rd test). No doubt you may want to add in other possibilities. Fine. Somehow we need to drag 'turning stones into bread', 'all the kingdoms of this world', & (not) jumping from temple tops screaming into the 21st C. Otherwise our own temptations & testings may never become real & apparent to us. Nor how to say NO! to them & YES! to God as Jesus does.