Jenny holding the Bible and Bernard the cow

This blog post is based on a sermon I preached on the first Sunday of Lent, 26th February 2023. The reading is: Matthew 4:1-11.

When you woke up this morning and got dressed ready to go out, did you get to the door and put flowerpots on your feet? Did you put ice cream on your feet? Or did you put shoes on your feet?

How about, when you want to get a drink – would you like to have your drink served in a watering can? Would you like to have your drink served in a pringles tube? What do you want your drinks served in? A cup? Ah, I see!

I guess it would probably be quite tricky to drink from a watering can, and probably quite messy too! We need to make sure that we have the right tools for the job.

Jesus in the Wilderness

In Matthew 4:1-11, we see Jesus go into the wilderness, fast for 40 days, and be tested three times by the devil.

What tools did Jesus take into the wilderness with him?

When we look at this reading, it doesn’t seem like Jesus had any tools with him. He was in the middle of the wilderness, he had no food to eat for 40 days, and he was all alone. But when the devil appeared to him, to test him and to tempt him, he was prepared.

The devil wanted him to prove that he was the son of God by turning stones into bread – which I’m sure would have been very tempting after not eating for so long – but Jesus doesn’t. He says: “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Next, the devil tells Jesus to jump from a high cliff because God will catch him, and again Jesus says: “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

And finally, the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms and all the splendor if he will worship him, but yet again Jesus says: “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

The one tool Jesus used

So, each time the devil tests Jesus – how does he respond?

Each time, Jesus has the same response. “It is written”.

But what does this mean – where is it written?

Each time Jesus refers back to the word of God, that we find in the Bible. This is the tool that Jesus chooses to fight against the devil. And every time, it wins!

The one tool we need

In our lives, we will also face tests and temptations. Maybe you’ve been tempted to tell a lie to get yourself out of trouble. Or been tempted to say something mean just because everyone else is saying it. Or found things in your life that distract you from following God’s will.

But we have the same tool that Jesus had in the wilderness. We have the word of God too. And it is these words that can help us to defeat the tests and temptations we face. It guides us and shows us the right choices to make.

Have you got a Bible with you right now?

Well Jesus didn’t have a physical Bible with him in the wilderness. But he knew what it said. To use this tool, we need to know what it says. We need to read it, to learn from it, to explore it. And there are lots of ways that we can do this. We do it when we go to church and unpack a passage from the Bible together. We can read the Bible at home, by ourselves or together as a family, reading a passage together and asking questions about what it means.

The season of Lent

Right now, we’re at the very beginning of Lent, which is a great time to dig into your Bible.

Have any of you given something up this Lent? Traditionally, Lent is a time when we give up something. Whether that is social media, certain foods that we love, or TV for example. If you’re not sure what to give up this Lent – do read this blog post to help you decide.

But you could also add something into your day during this time. Maybe, you could start using a prayer journal each day. You could dedicate part of your lunch break to reading the Bible. You could sing worship songs on your way to work or school.

Or you could join Arnold’s Lent Challenge! We have put together a challenge to help you memorise up to six different verses from the Bible between now and Easter – simply download and print the guide, then work your way through each week of the challenge!

The one tool we need: the Bible

Because when we are facing tests and temptations, that are trying to turn us away from God – knowing what the Bible says is the tool that we need to fight against those things.

Just like we shouldn’t drink out of a watering can, or a pringles tube – we need a cup. And we don’t put ice cream or flowerpots on our feet – we need shoes. Picking the right tool for the job is important – and the Bible, is a very powerful tool.

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