Friday, March 3, 2017

Lent 1

Lent  1
O Lord God, You led Your ancient people through the wilderness and brought them to the Promised Land. Guide the people of Your Church that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

God’s Word creates and sustains our new life in Jesus Christ. But God’s Word is not the only word. There is the word of a fallen and sinful world. Its chief spokesman is Satan. And the message of this world - tries to snuff out the new life affected in us by God’s Word.

Satan's temptations get immediately to the core question of Jesus' identity. They call into question Jesus’ relationship with the Father.  Beginning with the provocative question, "If you are the Son of God." Individually, each temptation invites Jesus to turn away. From trusting in God in a different way.

So, whose word do you hear?

1. The first word that you hear concerns how Jesus receives God’s Word.

A. Through Satan the world says, “Doubt it.”  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” v. 3 The devil invites Jesus to prove His Sonship through a display of power. By establishing His validity and worth through His own abilities. The same goes with you. Satan will twist Scripture to get you to think that your only worth before God is determined by what you do. He cautions. Don’t trust in such a “blind faith.”  Work! Produce! Do!  Work More! Produce More! Do More! 

B. But Jesus says, “Trust it.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” V. 4 Jesus refuses to turn stones into bread. But before long. He will feed thousands in the wilderness with just a few loaves and some fish. (Matthew 14:17-21; 15:33-38)  He will teach His disciples to pray to God for their "daily bread." (Matthew 6:11).

2. The second word that you hear concerns how Jesus uses God’s Word.  In this temptation, it’s to test God's fidelity.

A. Through Satan the world says, “Misuse it.” “Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle 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 , ‘On their hands they will bear you up. Lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Vv. 5-6 

B. But Jesus says, “Use is properly.” “Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” v. 7  Jesus refuses to take advantage of His relationship to His Father by hurling himself down from the heights of the Temple. At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus endures the taunts of others. (Matthew 27:38-44) While trusting God's power to the end upon the heights of a Roman cross. (Matthew 27:46).

3. The third word that you hear concerns how he lives out God’s Word.  The third test – is more of a bribe than temptation -- Jesus is promised all the power and glory the earth can offer if He will give His allegiance and devotion to the Tempter. 

A. Through Satan the world says, “Disobey it.” “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’” v. 8

B. But Jesus says, “Submit to it.”  “They Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” v. 10 Jesus turns down the devil's offer of political leadership over the kingdoms of the world. Instead, He offers the kingdom of the heavens to all those who follow Him in the way of righteousness.

In each case, Jesus rejects the temptation and lodges His identity, future, and fortunes on God's character and trustworthiness.

Identity becomes the focus of the Tempter in Jesus' temptation. "If you are the Son of God," Satan begins. He questions, "How do you know you are God's Son?" "Wouldn't it be better to know for certain? Turn stone to bread, jump from the Temple, worship me...and you will never know doubt again. You will know. You will be sufficient on your own." 

Each temptation is the same. But Jesus responds by refusing to establish His own worth and identity on His own terms. Instead, Jesus remains dependent on God. Jesus knows who He is. By remembering whose He is.

Faith doesn't always do away with the hardships that are part of this life.  Rather, faith gives us the courage to stand amid these hardships. Not simply surviving. Actually flourishing in and through Jesus, the one who was tempted as we are and thereby knows our struggles first hand. This same Jesus. Now invites you to find both hope and courage in the God who named not only him, but also all of us, beloved children - so that we, also, might discover who we are be recalling whose we are.

Whose word? Whose word are you going to take?  The words of Christ? Or that of the world? Always look to Jesus. For your example and for your strength. In life and death, Jesus took the Father’s Word and followed it. In this way. He brought us grace. To do the same. 

Words – 990
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability – 82.1
Reading level – 4.5%

Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use
Google images: “The temptation of Christ”

No comments: