February 28, 2023

MESSAGE – First Sunday in Lent – A – 26 February 2023

MESSAGE – First Sunday in Lent – A – 26 February 2023

THEME: Lent: repent of your sins and return to the Lord. We are moving in the direction of the Realm/Kingdom of God and today’s readings point to that which we are tempted to work against the values and practices of the Realm/Kingdom of God

The central ideas for this first Sunday in Lent are temptation, sin, right and wrong, and how we respond to each.
The familiar story of the temptation and sin of Adam and Eve is no less relevant today than when it was first told, and Paul uses this story as a primary foundation for his doctrine of Christ’s atonement for the sins of humankind.
The psalmist sings of the joy and relief of forgiveness, which comes from acknowledgment and confession.
Finally, driven into the wilderness by the Spirit and armed with only God’s word, Jesus confronts temptation at the end of his forty days and nights of fasting without yielding to it.
Getting through each temptation was not only a means to an end, but rather a revelation of Jesus’ identity and his obedient relationship to God.
Over the next 5 weeks we see Jesus interacted with various people. “Jesus and Pals.” How Jesus interacts with each of these reveals to us something of Jesus. Week one of the Lenten series This is about Jesus, not about Satan.
Lent 1A – Satan, “Worship and serve only God”


1. Connected to Baptism: then the Spirit led him”

Comes directly after “he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” The same Spirit that descended upon him, has now led him into the Wilderness. After being declared “Son of God,” Devil now addresses him as such.


2. Wilderness – a time of trial – matches the time of trials – Flood, Israelites in Wilderness, etc.

Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit- but not necessarily left there- Is the Spirit with Jesus in the midst of temptation?

God, not the devil, is initiating this situation
Similar to Moses and Elijah
Wilderness is not only a physical place but a spiritual place – to be tested and transformed.


3. Temptation: Pride, power, possession.

 “The tradition teaches that these temptations stand for pride, power, and possession,’ And all of the sudden my soul – not my mind, but my soul -said ‘Aha!’ as a puzzle piece clicked into place.  I didn’t know much about Jesus, the devil, or that desert, but I knew pride. I knew the desire for power; I knew the wish for possessions. I was familiar with all of them, from painful experience… All of the sudden the story wasn’t about Jesus; it was about me, too. And not just me; it was about all humanity.” (Nurya Love Parish, The Christian Century, “Living by the Word” Feb. 15, 2017. Vol 134, no 4)

Jesus’ temptations are our temptations still. Though none of us are tempted to turn stone to bread, and hopefully none expect to survive jumping off a building, we are still tempted to pursue other paths to wealth, influence, and power. We are still tempted to seek short cuts, ignore God’s will, and pursue goals that promise fulfillment, but only lead to emptiness.

If you are the Son of God then….
Jesus proved he is the son of God by responding faithfully as oppose to giving in to the devil
Devil: the opposition, the tempter, the “other”, the adversary or accuser
Each time Jesus responds with Torah first 5 books of law – even when the Devil quotes Ps 91, Torah wins out.
In each temptation Jesus is asked to diminish himself in relation to Satan – to “look selfishly within, to lift him (the devil) up, and to throw himself down.” Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, “Luke”, True to Our Native Land, p.164.
The Devil – diabolos, equivalent of the Hebrew satan or accuser
All of Jesus’ responses come from Deuteronomy
“Since you are the Son of God” or “If you are the Son of God.”?
CEB – Since


4. A second Exodus (Douglas Hare)

Jesus’ 40 days in wilderness = Israel’s 40 years.
Temptations are the same
Bread in face of extreme hunger – like Israelites in Ex. 16:3.
Israelites complained about hunger, and betrays trust. Jesus shows complete faith and appeals to higher calling than hunger.
“Throw yourself down.” Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, referring to when the Israelites questioned of The Lord was in their midst.
Idolatry. Despite many warnings to the contrary, the Israelites worship idols and graven images – from the very start of the covenant. Jesus, on the other hand, refuses to worship anyone but God.
Jesus’ 40 days in wilderness = Israel’s 40 years.
Food: mimics Israel in the wilderness in Ex. 16:3- demand for Manna, Water, etc
Israel is unfaithful- Jesus is faithful
Jesus shows complete faith and appeals to higher calling than hunger
Jesus responds – Deuteronomy 8:3
Temptation for material items
“Give us this day our daily bread” – a gift from God given, not something demanded