Saturday, March 21
Read Matthew 4:1-11
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.’ ” (vv 5-6)
No one who saw me would believe I am working. I am lounging on my bed. When I lie down, the creative ideas come, and then I sit up again to write them down. I’m on vacation from my demanding new teaching job, and my mind is fresh and clear. Solutions to problems I faced last semester pop up from nowhere. Ways to improve what I do swirl attractively through my brain. Freed from the daily obligations of my work (the 5 a.m. alarm, the hour commute, the piles of research papers to grade, the classes to plan), my mind thinks critically and creatively in ways it just couldn’t during the term. In fact, I am accomplishing a lot.
I don’t think Jesus lounged around in bed for 40 days when he went to the wilderness and fasted. Matthew tells us he was “led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted,” as though temptation were the very purpose of the trip. But Jesus was stepping away from the world, taking a break from the outside influences of the people and society around him to renew his soul. In fasting, he was seeking spiritual insight. If the very Son of God made time to be alone and seek wisdom, shouldn’t we? Yet in the daily press of our busy lives, we often ignore that. This oversight works to our detriment.
Though Jesus was (understandably) hungry after fasting for 40 days, his deprivation did not leave him a weakling. Jesus saw clearly and was not fooled by the devil’s deceptions, even though the devil used scripture to tempt him. Time alone seeking wisdom had given Jesus a discerning spirit, so he was not prey to those who distort scripture for their own power or selfishness. Jesus understood the spirit of God behind the scripture because he stepped away from the world’s strivings and focused on spiritual truth.
You are taking time away from the world to grow spiritually right now. Do you see that it makes a difference in your life? Medical research shows the power of meditation to calm the nerves and improve human health. Though our individual practices may not meet the official definition of meditation, the time we spend alone in stillness and prayer is very powerful. Jesus shows us by example how to reconnect to our Rock.
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