Holy Manna: February 27, 2023

Holy Manna: A Lenten Devotional for St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Read: Matthew 4:1-11

I have worn a cross around my neck for most of my life for a variety of reasons. Most recently, I often place the small pendant over my collarbones before I head to my middle school classroom and the image of a stole comes to mind: my vocation as calling and mission (plus a quick plea for grace and endurance that the “sevies” won’t bring me down today!) Choosing to wear a cross doesn’t give me superpowers, serve as a talisman, or make me a Christian, but it does remind me of my identity: who I am and whose I am.

It is interesting to me that 2 of the 3 temptations in Matthew 4 revolve around Jesus’ identity. In this passage, Jesus enters a Spirit-designated time of physical and spiritual trial. In a weakened state, he is approached by Satan who quickly reveals his plot: twist the promises of God and manipulate the Messiah into questioning who he is and whose he is:

(v 3 Smith loose translation): If you are the Son of God … do this miracle, turn these stones, fill your belly. You know what’s best, don’t wait on God. You’ve got this, right? Prove yourself.

(v 4) If you are the Son of God… make God prove it. You’re just that Nazarene with a big head and bigger claims. Throw it all down, God man. Make God prove how special you are, force his hand.

Jesus is not manipulated and answers with strength and authority. Jesus knows who he is and refuses to be baited by Satan’s twisted misuse of words that Jesus helped craft to begin with. Satan tempts Jesus to prove himself (his worth, value, authority) and in so doing tempts Jesus to doubt his identity. But Jesus doesn’t have anything to prove. He knows who he is and whose he is. I need to walk in this truth.

Breath prayer:
(Inhale) Abba, I belong to you… (Exhale) …contend with my insecurity
(Inhale) Abba, I belong to you… (Exhale) … comfort my anxiety
(Inhale) Abba, I belong to you… (Exhale) … help me not take the bait!

-Nicole Smith