14 February 2024 Anno Domini (during beginning of Lent)

the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

(Gospel of St. Matthew 4:8-11; all scripture is quoted from the King James Version)

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, the temptation of our Lord Jesus Christ did not end in the Wilderness, but continued in less intensity throughout His ministry. So, the greatest temptations occurred during those forty days and nights in the Wilderness at the very beginning of His ministry. It is true of every Christian who is called to the Throne of Grace by the workings of the Holy Spirit. The greatest trials of temptation most often occur shortly after regeneration in faith and subsequent baptism. The devil will pull every trick out of his bag of deception to dissuade the believer from following Christ. The most traumatic experience of life is at the birth of a child, or the emergence of a butterfly from the cocoon. The same is true at the new birth in Christ for the grievous sinner: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

Christ began His ministry after the Wilderness Temptations by cleansing the Temple (John 2:13-17). He did, as well, end His earthly ministry by cleansing the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13. The sanctification of our souls is ongoing and never complete until that day that we are glorified with the Lord.

It is noteworthy for us, as members of the Body of Christ, to be prepared for our Wilderness trials, and also for our trials in persevering for Christ until the end.

It seems likely that our Lord faced a severe onslaught of temptations in the last forty days of His ministry before His crucifixion. Knowing with an unconcealed certainty of the death He was facing just days hence, He must have been tempted above any others. Why not simply fade away in some distant Mediterranean port, or else the Arabian desert to avoid the wrath of the Jewish rulers? He had the power to forego crucifixion, yet, He persevered without hesitation to the end. Even while suffering so acutely on the cross, He could have called upon legions of angels, and He would have been rescued – but He did not.

It was the over-powering mandate of His love for us that compelled Him to endure. Moreover, He was obedient completely to the will of the Father. In fact, His human frailty urged His prayer in the Garden that some other means might be had to redeem us: “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42) But, alas, the Eternal Sacrifice was the only appeasement for us and our sins with the Father, and our Lord accepted that great burden at Gethsemane.

I do not believe any reading this devotion would have done so and, even if we had agreed to do so, it would have profited nothing since a sinner’s death cannot redeem of sin – the sacrifice must be perfect and unspotted with sin.

During these forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays) let us take the fast with penitent hearts avoiding those excesses of the flesh that distract us from the love and sacrifice illustrated in the death of our Savior. Draw near with faith and behold the Lamb of God sacrificed for us from before the foundation of the world!

By |2024-02-15T16:14:03+00:00February 15th, 2024|Blog|Comments Off on FORTY DAYS OF TESTING

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