2.10.2015 "What is it that you want?"

Matthew 4:1-4Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]

I met Glen in band class, he was a sophomore I was senior.  Glen was pretty sharp, a nice guy, and a good student.  Occasionally I’d see him walking to school and pick him up in that old jalopy that most seniors like me had either inherited from the family car pool or acquired from endless evenings of sacking groceries or from spending long, hot summer days cutting a subdivision worth of lawns.  Like most guys Glen’s age all he talked about was getting a job so he could get a car.  He reminded me a lot of myself.  Every underclassmen dreamed of being an upperclassmen with a “ride”.   But there are dues to pay.

Imagine how shocked we all were when Glen pulled into the school parking lot one morning in a brand new sports car.  The car was stunning.  It had everything, leather interior, chrome mag wheels, and a premium sound system.  A bunch of us rode to lunch with Glen that day just drooling at every turn.  He explained how the car was a surprise birthday gift from his dad who had just come home from an overseas military deployment.  Wow.  Glen was the envy of everyone.

Several weeks later there was a second shock.  Glen was arrested for car theft.  As it turns out, Glen’s dad had not returned home after all.  He had stolen the car and somehow managed to elude police and conceal the theft from his mother for nearly two weeks.  I ran into him years later and we talked about what had really happened.  He had seen the car at the dealership and asked to test drive it.  Since he was only sixteen and couldn’t show proof of insurance that did not happen.  But he did notice where the keys were kept.  He returned to the dealership shortly before closing and managed to get the keys without anyone noticing.  I asked him why?  He said that once he’d seen the car he could not think of anything else no matter how hard he tried.  He said deep down he knew what he was going to do once he saw where the keys were kept.   He also said the joy and excitement he got from having that car for two weeks paled in comparison to the constant guilt, fear, and anxiousness he felt knowing…expecting to be caught at any moment.  Being arrested he said, was actually a relief.

What is it that you want?   Have you ever played the genie game?   What would your three wishes be?  At the very heart of every temptation is self-gain.   It is a weakness in us that was revealed and consummated in the Garden of Eden.   It is also the reason the SAVIOR of the world was in that desert mentioned in today’s passage.    The very essence of our LORD is the opposite of self-gain.   Nothing JESUS did was ever self-serving or exclusively for his own pleasure.  That was not the mission.  Imagine having the DEVINE power of the universe at your fingertips and choosing to channeling all of it, yes all of it, to the service and benefit of others.  What a comfort to know that even though we so often give in to that which tempts us, our failures are all gone because HE did not give in or fail in that desert or at Calvary.

Heavenly Father we give you thanks and praise this day for the gift given to us in a desert and on a hill so many years ago.  Inspire us today LORD to follow the lead of YOUR SON and give glory to YOU in our thoughts, words, and actions.   Focus our hearts on the mission of sharing with others the joyful news that no matter what we do in the face of temptation the right choice has already been made on our behalf.   In JESUS name we pray, Amen.

Jim L.