Jesus knew who he was. At his baptism, His Father had just told him. “This is my son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.”
It was a wonderful way to start a ministry career. But right after that experience, Jesus was taken into the wilderness, into the rocks and hills and barrenness. And he didn’t eat for forty days.
We call it fasting. It’s an example of the reason Lent is 40 days, that Lent is marked by fasting. There is a connection with the example of Jesus.
All of the time was marked by tempting, by testing, by those annoying conversations with that voice that says, “go ahead. This is okay.” Or “you are so dumb” or “why bother.” Those conversations that we realize sound nothing like God. But when we are in them, they make sense. Jesus knows all about those conversations because, we read, he was tempted in every way like we are.
We know about three of the conversations.
One of them was about food and about his capacity to do amazing things. “Tell these rocks to be bread.” One of them was about fame and position and power, “Just tell me I’m boss.” One of them was about trust, “If you really trust God, you’ll jump and he’ll catch you.”
In each case, Jesus does two things.
First, he quotes from the book of Deuteronomy. The heart of the law for a Jewish boy. He knew the words, knew the Word, inside and out. He knew that the way to respond to supernatural attack was with supernatural words, not with good thoughts but with God’s thoughts, not with good reasons but with God’s reasons.
Second, he moves himself from the center of focus and turns his mind and heart toward God’s bigger story.
My hunger isn’t the most important thing in the world.
My fame isn’t the most important thing in the world
My rescue isn’t the most important thing in the world.
Those temptations sound really familiar, don’t they? They sound like what we want, too. We want to not be hungry. We want to be known. We want to be rescued.
But Jesus knew that the ways to those things that the devil was offering were wrong. Because he knew that he was loved by God. He knew that the Spirit was with him in the wilderness. He knew that satisfaction and rescue and being known are all found in relationship to God, not in giving in.
To stay committed, he stayed connected: to the words and commands and relationship with his Father.