March 6, 2012
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Matthew 4:1
In the fall of 2011, Mr. Bruce Wurdeman, LHM's executive director, and I visited Israel and Palestine. Upon our return he asked me to write a series of Lenten devotions, which center on the Savior and some of the places we saw. This week's devotions fulfill his request. It is my prayer that the Lord will use them to bless you as well as those who will be traveling with us to the Holy Land in the fall of 2012. In Him, Pastor Ken Klaus
As might be expected, ancient Jericho is a pile of rubble.
Standing at the top of those ruins, a Bible student will recall how Joshua, having crossed the Jordan, brought those "walls a-tumblin' down." Further reading will speak of the time Jesus gave sight to two blind men and brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus.
Still, the most impressive lesson a visitor can learn at Jericho comes from Mount Quarantania. Baffled by the name? Don't be. Quarantania is not mentioned in Scripture, at least not in so many words.
Quarantania is the mountain where tradition says Jesus was tempted. That tradition may or may not be true. All we can say for certain is that Jesus was led out into the wilderness to be tempted. No, that's not right. We can truthfully say Jesus was led out into the wilderness to successfully resist temptation.
Resisting temptation. That's something at which all of us have failed. My temptation may not be yours, and yours may not be mine. Satan doesn't care. He's got the experience and the patience that enables Him to find everyone's weakness. That's why Scripture says that "all have sinned ...." (Romans 3:23a).
All have sinned except Jesus. All have fallen before temptation except our Savior.
For us, Jesus resisted the easy path: the seductive road Satan laid out before Him. Now, by His perfect life, His absolute obedience to the Father and a rejection of Satan's temptations, all who believe on Him are forgiven and saved. That is the lesson to be learned at Jericho.
But there is one other thing I would like you to see as you gaze up on the wilderness of Mount Quarantania. Looking ahead, you will only see barren, dry ground without much, if anything, to sustain life. Now, do an about-face and look to the green palm and fig trees of Jericho.
There, in a way that most westerners cannot understand, we can see the difference water can make to a dry and infertile place.
Little wonder Jesus, the Resister of temptation, the Defeater of devil and death, calls Himself the Living Water, the Water of Life.
It was His way of saying that He, like water, changes death to life. It was His way of reminding us that water changes everything.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for me and my salvation You successfully resisted Satan's temptations. May I live my life giving thanks for You who turned the desert of my day-to-day life into something truly blessed. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries