Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I want to ask you all a question. And I want you to say out loud the first thing that pops into you head. Ready? Who are you in your family? When I thought about asking you this question, I realized that there really isn’t one answer. I am a mom and a grandmother, a sister and an aunt, the youngest, the tallest. These are all things that place me in my family.
Who is Jesus in his family? Last week, we heard God say to Peter, James, and John, “This is my beloved Son.” This is the same thing Jesus first heard right after he was baptized. And that is where we meet Jesus in today’s reading. He has been baptized by John, and immediately he is led to the wilderness. But what does it mean to that Jesus is God’s Son? Maybe that’s what Jesus is trying to figure out when he goes out to the wilderness to fast.
When I asked you that question, “Who are you in your family?” I wanted to give you an idea of what Jesus may have been thinking about in the wilderness as he fasted, knowing that his identity as Son of God would be tested throughout his ministry.
When Jesus had fasted and was very hungry, the devil started testing Jesus’s identity. “Son of God? Why are you hungry, when you can turn these stones into bread? But Jesus knows the Scripture. “You can't live by bread alone. You need also the Word of God.”
“Son of God? If you trust God so much, why not jump off this roof? The Bible says God will not let you fall. Why not prove it?” Jesus responds again, “God’s love is everywhere. There is no need to test it.”
“Son of God? Why be second? Why not just take over? Why not be in charge yourself? I can give you everything if you just bow down to me.” Jesus’s response is powerful. “Only God is God. And only God is to be worshiped.”
It’s true Jesus was not alone in the wilderness. The devil was there. But so was God. Jesus saw God in the Scripture. Jesus felt God’s love all around him. Jesus rested in the greatness of God. Jesus didn’t meet the devil by himself. God was with him. Jesus embraced his identity as Son of God when he didn’t try to fight temptation by himself. Jesus turned to God, and God was there. God loves us. We read it in the Scriptures. We see it all around us. We are NOT alone as we wrestle with who we are as God’s children and live more deeply into the life of love God wants for us.
It’s living as followers of Jesus, children of the same Father, that gives our lives real purpose and meaning. God provides the strength we need to live as Jesus did – loving our neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting those in trouble. And our Father gives us comfort and peace as we continue on the journey.
I challenge you to spend time in prayer seeking what God would have you do in this season of Epiphany – to live as Jesus lived, knowing that whatever you are led to do, God will be with you. Amen.