We live in a world where quick fixes and instant results are prized by many. Advertisements continually tell us that with this cream, this food, this lifestyle, we can look younger and be healthier and more fulfilled. And it is all because we are worth it! Some of these things may well be true, but it is rarely as simple as the advertisers would wish us to believe; often, they give us false hope and a false picture of what we should be valuing.
In today’s reading, Zechariah’s harsh words are directed at the false prophets of his day— those who have told lies to the people, promising false hope and a false sense of security. And Luke’s Gospel recounts the meeting in the wilderness between Jesus and the Prince of Lies. The temptations present Jesus with the opportunity to show that he is worth it, to use his powers to instantly satisfy his hunger and increase his prestige. He counters each temptation by pointing away from himself to his Father in heaven.
Jesus then begins his public ministry, first by teaching with authority in the synagogue and then by casting out demons and healing the sick. The power and authority that he was not tempted to acquire for his own sake now become apparent in his compassionate ministry for others. The demons declare him to be the Son of God, and the people come flocking because he can give them the healing they long for.
The one who refused to make the stones bread to feed himself becomes the bread of the world, feeding people with the truths of God’s love. The one who refused to accept the power promised by the devil has the power to drive out demons and illness in the name of God. And we know that his ministry will lead not to a miraculous avoidance of death but to a dying that in the end triumphs over death, giving real hope to all who put their trust in him.
In what ways am I tempted to trust in false hope? How can I learn to discern the true prophets from the false?
What need do you long for Jesus to meet?
Lord Jesus, you were tempted as we are but were without sin; grant us the wisdom to discern your truths, that we may resist false hopes and trust in your compassionate goodness. May we worship the Lord our God and serve only him in all that we do and say. Amen.