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And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. – Luke 4:1-13 [ESV]
We were in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England. For three Sundays in a row we had been unable to be in public worship. We had taken the opportunity to pray, to sing, and to read and discuss God’s word, but our travel schedule in combination with being previously in non-English-speaking areas conspired to prevent gathering in public for worship. But that day, at noon, there came an interruption to the goings on in the Cathedral. The priest informed us that since St. Paul’s is a house of worship, they would pause for a time of prayer. They asked everyone there – maybe 500 or more exploring the massive building – to pause and observe a time of silence, in respect for the time of prayer.
The priest then mentioned praying for various people: mothers and fathers, children, the ill, the lonely, the homeless, those fraught with worry, and those in the throes of war. Then he simply invited us all to pray the Lord’s Prayer. I could barely get the words out. It was a powerfully refreshing few moments.
I pray the Lord’s Prayer often. Many times a day. At night when I cannot sleep. As I go to sleep. When I first wake up in the morning. As I think of others who are on my heart. I love the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
And as I think of the petitions, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from [the] evil [one], and stand those up against this encounter with Satan, new appreciation dawns within me. Jesus teaches us to pray, “lead us not into temptation,” because he knows what it is like to face temptation. He teaches us to pray, “deliver us from [the] evil [one],” because he has encountered Satan face to face. Jesus calls Satan the father of the lie, and he knows how deceptive and deceiving he is.
The same is certainly true for all of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus lived in the fullness of hallowing the Father’s name, embodying his reign and rule, depending on the Father for daily bread, and forgiving the sins of sinners. This was his life. And right now he is experiencing the incredible difficulty of being led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Jesus was led into the wilderness, the abode of Satan, the realm of wandering. When the Israelites were led into the wilderness to escape Egyptian slavery, they gave into temptation. They fashioned an idol of gold. They grumbled. They refused to believe. They criticized their leaders. Jesus is being led to face temptation by the devil and he will not give in to it. He will be all that Israel was supposed to be.
I’m thankful for that, and have an ever deepening appreciation for Jesus’ stalwart faithfulness, the urgency of praying against temptation, and undying thankfulness for his help and presence in the face of Satan and his schemes.