The practices of Lent—fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and reconciliation—invite us to recognize that we aren’t able to submerge ourselves completely in the cold waters of repentance. Despite how we might grit our teeth and plunge forward into the repentance of John’s baptism, we cannot truly die to ourselves. We keep coming up for air.
We are saved as we are found in Christ, as we forsake our security, our achievements—all that we have and all that we are—to know Christ because they are worthless before him. Suffering comes with this recognition first because it invites us into the truth about ourselves and then because it invites us onto the self-sacrificial way of Christ.
Just before today’s passage, Matthew opens his gospel with the powerful yet simple phrase, “The book of the genesis of Jesus Christ.” With this phrase he conjures up the moment when God created the heavens and the earth. Matthew wants us to be clear that the same power that breathed forth life where there was none is at work in Jesus Christ.