I have to confess, I wouldn’t have got past the first temptation; I mean, stone-baked bread and a picnic in the desert (what is it about food that tastes so good outdoors?). How irresistible!
Today’s Gospel reading in the Church of England lectionary for the Sunday Eucharist comes from St. Matthew, chapter 4 and the account of Jesus tempted in the desert.
It seems to me that these temptations are to do with so many things that are central to our lives. Surely, these are all lures because we invest so much in them. We live for them; wealth, strength, power and politics. Yet, in so many ways, they drain us of life. The wilderness story teaches us that Jesus was not prepared to live for them at just any cost. Indeed he went on to die for a world so dazzled by these temporary trappings that it is spiritually blind to the things that last forever. Beyond our Lenten journeys, of course, we know that the Son of God died and then went on to conquer death that we might find new life. But for now, let us also die a little – at least die to those things that hold us back spiritually. Let us walk with Jesus through the wilderness, knowing that streams in the desert are promised, pouring forth with the water of eternal life.
I often use music to reflect on such themes and recently I’ve been listening to Steve Reich’s The Desert Music. Perhaps the title makes it too obvious a choice to go with this Gospel reading, but its vivid wildness does draw me to walking with Jesus through the wilderness; in the footsteps of my imagination at least.