Bishop's Reflections #6: Temptations of Jesus - Stones to Bread

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Over the last few weeks in these short video reflections I've been using the theme of gifts; and last week it was the gift of Lent. And now as we enter this season of Lent I want to turn my attention to the story that we have of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.

That period of 40 days when Jesus was in the wilderness is often where we take inspiration from for this season of Lent, thinking about how Jesus spent time in prayer, fasting and in one sense deciding his priorities in his life.

So first of all then the temptation to Jesus was to turn stones into bread. Now of course that will have come out of his own physical need, 
his hunger, he spent 40 days, were told, fasting so this was a very real temptation to satisfy his own needs, to use his power to satisfy his own needs.

But of course there's something deeper going on here when we think of some of the resonances of other stories in the Bible; Jesus feeding the 5000 with the broken bread and the fish. Something about how Jesus provides for other people, how he lives out that's calling to be the bread of life.

And this is about the temptation then to provide for others but to do it in a way that actually satisfies our need rather than theirs. So the temptation is that power of providing for others which makes us feel good about ourselves. We all know that experience don't we when we give some money away or help somebody who's in particular need there is a buzz that we get from that, we get that feeling of having done something good. But that doesn't always mean that we've actually taken the time to think about the dignity of the other person,

their own self-respect and what it is they really need. In other words we're more concerned with our own feelings and feeling good about ourselves than we are with theirs. So this temptation then is an invitation to us to reflect on what it means to care for other people and to provide for them.

That's very important I think at this moment in time as we seek to care for one another in the midst of all the challenges we're facing at the moment. It's good to be able to care and help for others but we need to do that from a place of not thinking about our own generosity and feeling good about ourselves, but rather from a feeling of their self-respect and dignity. And that means listening, hearing what they are saying to us rather than the voice inside of ourselves.

So a simple prayer for you that God would make you generous, that God would give you a spirit of listening and that as we seek to care for one another at this time of challenge and of great need, so we would truly put each other's needs ahead of our own. Amen.

First published on: 22nd February 2021
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