First Sunday of Lent

The Temptation of Jesus - Calvary - Summitview


Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7

Romans 5:12-19

Matthew 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.

The readings for the First Sunday of Lent give us a lot to reflect on. They focus on the origin and consequences of sin. The reading from Genesis tells the story of Adam and Eve committing the first sin, disobeying God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, at the goading of the serpent. When we think of the first sin, we often regard it a sin of pride, and I’m not discounting that. But I wonder if fear had something to do with it, specifically a lack of trust that God would provide for and protect those He loves? Perhaps this is the basis of Eve’s seeing that “the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” Was God denying them something that was good for them? Was He not giving all that He could give? Why should He withhold from us something so good and desirable? Surely, that can’t be fair or just! Surely, God is not the loving Creator we thought He was. If so, why would he not want us to have something so wonderful? This fear of missing out is at least partly the basis for our race’s unquenchable thirst for power (fear of lacking control), fame (fear of being irrelevant), lust (fear of being alone) and money (fear of being without). Like Adam and Eve, we do not fully trust that God is a God of His word, so we are tempted away from His loving arms by serpents who cunningly manipulate our fears into disobedience. The origins of our word “obedience” comes from the Latin oboedire, which means “to listen.” This fear, this listening to what Satan promised rather than to what God had promised, this lack of trust in the heart of Adam and Eve that led to their disobedience was countered by the full trust and obedience of Christ. Our understanding is not as broad as perhaps it could be regarding the mysteries of God and our salvation. For we think of Jesus’ saving act, the act by which He freed us from the chains of sin, as simply His death on the cross. And this is absolutely correct, but only part of the story. For the full sacrifice Jesus offered for the sins of the world included His life lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, even unto death. It was that life lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father that led Jesus inevitably to the cross, because the world that lives in disobedience to God would not tolerate such a life. “Just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.” In the desert, Satan uses the same tactic of manipulating what he hopes are Jesus’ fears into disobedience. He offers Jesus food and power and questions the Father’s protection. But Jesus will not listen/obey Satan. Rather, His full trust and confidence is in His heavenly Father, whom He obeys even onto death. It was because of this that God highly exalted Him. If we listen/obey Jesus, God will raise us up, as well.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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