Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. Matthew 4:1-11
Most of us are not too tempted by apples these days, but rather the things we should not eat. We are tempted to indulge ourselves rather than to behave ourselves. We could probably talk for hours over all the things and foods that tempt us. But we rarely admit to our most common temptation, that is, when we shut others out and deny the people and places we are being called. It is easy to hide in our familiar places, our comfort zones. We are rarely tempted to venture to the places and people that challenge us or disagree with us. God has called us to those places and we refuse to go.
Jesus was alone u on a mountain. (I always wondered how the Gospel writers knew of the exact exchange between the devil and Jesus.) He was there after his baptism to prepare heart, mind and spirit for the ministry ahead of him. He was there to get ready to go to difficult places and to touch the outcast and the unwanted. He went there to prepare to go to the margins, the tough spaces and out of his comfort zone. We are invited this Lent to get out of our comfort zones. We are invited to open our hearts to the people and places we have turned our backs on. We are invited to prepare ourselves to go to the margins for God.
Today I ask God to help me move away from comfort and the temptation of comfort. May we refuse to give in to putting up walls, but rather, may we break through those barriers we have built so well. May we go to the margins, out to the edges for the love of God today.
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.