And so, it began.
The next day Andrew was at the house bright and early, excited about what lay ahead with Jesus, and already dreaming of what life would be like without the Romans.
But what Jesus taught wasn’t about a revolution. Instead, he told us about where he had been for the past six weeks.
Judea wasn’t an oasis by any stretch of the imagination. Villages had sprung up close to Galilee and along the Jordan, around family farms. But between the villages, especially as you moved away from the river things were pretty rugged.
Because there was no water there was no farming, and because there was not farming there were no villages, no people, nothing. Nothing but rocks and soil that had been baked hard in the sun.
Jesus told us that God led him into that bleak, unwelcoming wilderness to prepare for his ministry.
And he described his forty days, the hot sun, no food, no water. He said it was just him and his Father, which was strange because I was sure someone had mentioned that Jesus’ father had passed a few years back.
It was then that Jesus’ story took a turn; he told us that after forty days that the Devil had appeared and began to tempt him. Really? The devil? At first, I thought perhaps the lack of food and water combined with the unrelenting sun had caused him to hallucinate.
I wasn’t there, but Jesus seemed convinced that whatever or whoever he saw was real.
And then he told us the rest of the story.
“Peter, I know what you’re thinking, but I didn’t just imagine that I saw the devil, he was there, and he was as real as you are.
At first, he wanted me to turn the rocks into bread. I was so hungry; I hadn’t eaten since the day John baptized me.
He just stood there mocking me, ‘I know how hungry you are Jesus. ‘If you are really God’s son why don’t you turn some of these rocks into bread? That should be easy for God’s son if you are really God’s son.’
I could almost picture the loaves of warm bread that my mother baked every morning. And then he did this thing where I could smell fresh bread cooking. Well, I shouldn‘t have been surprised, he had never played fair in the past.
It would have been so easy. Just a party trick. But I remembered what was written in the law. And I reminded the devil that my Father had told us we wouldn’t live by bread alone, but by the very word of God.
I thought that was it, that he was finished, but apparently, he was just beginning. The next thing I knew I was standing on the highest point of the temple walls. I could see the crowds gathering for prayer, but it was as if we were invisible, nobody reacted to the two of us standing where no one had stood since they had built the wall.
‘Go ahead Jesus, jump, then everyone will know you are God.’
‘Jump, are you crazy, even if I survived what would that prove?’
’It would prove that you are the one. The Torah, your Father’s word promises you will be all right. I’m sure you could quote the Psalm Jesus. But do you really believe the promise?
You do remember the promise, don’t you? The one that says; For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands, so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. Or are they just words?’
‘You’re pretty good at twisting the Father’s words, but remember He also commands us to not test him.’
And in the blink of an eye the temple was gone, and then it was as if we were looking at the whole world. Every fiefdom and every kingdom was laid out like children’s toys scattered across a floor.
‘Worship me Jesus and all this will be yours. All you have to do is admit that I’m better, most people have no problem with that, and if you simply bend your knee, I’ll give this all to you.’
‘There’ll always be those who are happy to worship you, but I will never be in that group. We win Satan and you lose, you know that.’
You can’t even imagine the look of pure hate he gave me. He hadn’t changed at all since I cast him out of heaven, he was schemer then and he hadn’t changed, and he hadn’t learned a thing, he still thought he had a chance.
And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past forty days. So, you guys ready for an adventure?”
And so, it began.