Luke 4: 1-13
He looked at the sun. It was time to end the fast. The nearby community of hermits, veritable angles, had kept watch to make sure he wouldn’t die from the lack of food. Forty days was a long time. Few people who emulated Moses had ever endured to the end.
He made a move to get up on his now shaky legs. It took three times before he could stand tall and lankier than ever. His body didn’t want to cooperate. He swayed from hunger. In his ear was a whisper, but it was probably his own psyche playing tricks on him. “You know you can turn these stones to bread.”
He shoved the thought out of his mind. His gifts weren’t for himself, he knew. Besides, bread alone wouldn’t satisfy.
He needed to get his bearings. He made his way up the hill, not sure of the right direction to get back home. The hike was taxing, but by some unknown power he was propelled forward. When he reached the top he leaned against a rock and looked out on the broad expanse before him. All the cities he was familiar with lay in the valley below, even the capitol city with the river running near it. A queer thought struck him, “Mine, all mine’ he thought as if he wanted to wield power over the whole world. His fast had quadrupled his hunger pangs, and he whispered a painful prayer to God, “You alone shall I serve” before he passed out.
When he came to, he was no longer in the desert. He was in Jerusalem on the top of the temple’s pinnacle. He didn’t know how he got there. Perhaps the Esseens had found him and brought him to the temple. But why to the top of the building, the place that would make a weakened hungry man dizzy? A garish contorted face with an evil grin taunted, “Go ahead; throw yourself down.”
His vertigo forced him to grasp the rail to keep from falling. Perhaps he’d overdone it. Perhaps he’d fasted too long. Even food would not assuage his hunger immediately. He wondered why he had tried to imitate the greatest prophet of all time. The fasting, instead of bringing him light cast his soul deep into darkness. He had plummeted so low, he knew that suicide would be an option. He recoiled with nausea at the choice before him, to take from his Maker the right to end the pain forever?
“He’ll give his angels charge over you,” the specter whom he now knew to be the evil one, provoked.
The sounds and smells of the market below cleared his head. He took a deep breath. The fast had done its work. He knew who He was. Confronting his tempter he said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
The tempter vanished.
Instantly the angels surrounded Jesus to minister to him.