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Sunday Worship 18 February | Jesus in the Wilderness

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

We did something a little different today, with a time of reflection rather than a sermon. We often focus on the temptation part of the wilderness narrative, but that seems to come right at the end. Before that, there were forty days of silence and solitude. Perhaps some of us find we have too much of those things in our lives. Many of us know we do not have enough. I'm not suggesting we should all head out to the wilds of Bradgate Park from now until Easter, but it is good to take some time to follow Jesus into the wilderness and see what we find. And so this morning we saw a series of forty images of Jesus in the wilderness, drawn by an artist called Si Smith. As you watch them, I invite you to note anything that seems surprising or comforting or challenging, anything that offers something new about Jesus or something new for yourself.

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