Matthew’s story of Jesus in the wilderness is sandwiched between his baptism and the official start of his ministry in the Bible. It is similar to a coming-of-age story. It humanizes Jesus and connects us to him. This story is a metaphor. This is a spiritual journey where Jesus searches for meaning and a purpose in life. Most people do something like this at some point in their life. The gospel writers, Luke and Matthew, took the simple story from Mark and elaborated on it to instruct their congregations on the temptations people face in the world.
The overall lesson is that until one overcome the demons from within, we cannot reach our full purpose. Temptations come when we are often at our weakest point. The temptations are about doubting your relationship with God. The first temptation is when Jesus was asked to use his privilege for personal gain. People in positions of power or responsibility can be tempted to use their privilege for personal gain. To nourish our soul, we need truth, love, and wisdom, not worldly things. The second temptation is testing God with risky behavior. Believing God will protect or save you even though you are doing risky things. The last temptation is about abandoning your relationship with God and placing your belief in someone/something else. It is one thing to doubt. If you seek to find what you think you cannot get legitimately, you lose your way.
We turn away from God’s love on the false promise of getting everything we think we want. This story is about the false promises of this world. In these political times, we hear many promises on solutions to our problems. We are focusing on things that will not heal us. Pilgrim has many 12-step groups meeting here. This is one of our ways of connecting with the world. God’s love inoculates us against the temptations of the world. Baptism is the sign that we are a child of God and God loves us and is pleased.