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Daily Devotional • April 22

David Baumann
Being Tested
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tested by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’ ”

5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’ ”

9 Then the devil led him to Jerusalem and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to protect you,’

11 and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

For 15 years I ran a popular martial arts school out of the church where I was rector. The training was hard. When students were testing for black belt, I brought in black belts from other styles and other schools to serve as judges and as sparring partners for the candidates. My students had to do hard fighting with skilled fighters they’d never met before. It was demanding and frightening, but when it was all over, the new black belts of my school stood proudly, knowing that they had passed the test and were worthy to wear their new belts. 

Whether it’s a final exam, a job interview or review, or a sudden crisis that one must meet, testing is never pleasant — and yet it is what proves the worthiness and hardiness of the individual. When Jesus is tempted (the word also means “tested”) by the devil, he is “full of the Holy Spirit” and is “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness, the place of testing. God has set it up. The Second Adam confronts him who had been the beguiling, seductive serpent to Eve and, through her, to the First Adam. In that first test, humanity failed and fell into tragic corruption. In this second test, humanity succeeds. Jesus, for a time, is in the hands of the devil; the devil “leads” into temptation, and Jesus must follow. Follow he does, but he does not fail the test. 

It is the devil’s first loss. Now intense battle lines have been drawn, and we are taught that Jesus’ ministry is a battle against the power of the enraged devil. The most frightening words of all? The devil left him “until an opportune time.” It’s not over. That opportune time would be the Garden of Gethsemane. Though we know that the ultimate victory is now assured, the battle continues. And we are in it.

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Upper Shire – The Church of the Province of Central Africa
Episcopal Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Queens, New York
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