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Lenten Reflections Project 2022

Sunday | March 6 | Marc Choi

Matthew 4:1-4

"“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

My kids have discovered the world of Transformers. Their discovery has stoked in me a fierce nostalgia for my childhood days of playing with my transforming robots and singing the refrain of the original cartoon’s theme song: “Transformers, more than meets the eye.” Strangely, I find myself coming back to the phrase “more than meets the eye” in one way or another. In the daily joys and sorrows I experience or the hopes and anxieties that wash over me, I find myself asking, is there something more that is going on, is there something deeper?

I find myself asking the same question as I read the story of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. While experiencing extreme spiritual, emotional and physical exhaustion, the devil appears to Jesus and tempts him to use his power to turn stones into loaves of bread. What is the temptation here? Some have said the temptation is to be self-sufficient, to turn away from the provision of the Father and to make his own way. Isn’t this like Adam and Eve’s folly in the Garden of Eve? This temptation is present, but I sense an even deeper temptation, a “more than meets the eye” dynamic.

This story takes place not too long after Jesus’s baptism. As Matthew tells it in chapter 3, as soon as Jesus came up from the waters of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descended and the voice of the Father said loudly and clearly: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” In this moment, Jesus’s identity was affirmed and broadcasted: Jesus is one with the Father and the Spirit; he is the beloved Son of God.  

Now recall how the way the devil speaks to Jesus. The devil says, “If you are the Son of God, command the stones to become loaves of bread.” The temptation to be self-sufficient is present, but it’s preceded by another temptation. Jesus is tempted to forget his identity. Jesus is tempted to forsake his union with the Father and the Spirit and to doubt his belovedness.

If you are the Son of God…”

Often times we think evil’s goal is to get us to do bad things. But perhaps evil’s real, deeper, goal is to make us forget who we really are. And who are we? We are image-bearers of God made in love for love. We are God’s beloved sons and daughters. We are the apple of God’s eye.

Jesus replies to the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on the very word of God.” The very word of God is: “You are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.” Can you let this truth sink in? Are you hungry and tired this Lent? Then feast on these words now and always.

As you turn to God this Lent, may you hear the voice of God and remember who you are.

* Marc Choi is an assistant pastor at Grace Pasadena. If you can’t find him, he’s probably tending his little garden or taking a walk in his neighborhood.