First Sunday in Lent, Year A

Temptation in the Wilderness

As we begin the Season of Lent let us reexamine the wilderness experience that all Christian go through. Even Jesus was not an exception. We read in Matthew:

After Jesus was baptized, he was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  (Matthew 4;1-4)

Regrettably, for many of us, we are far too concerned about nourishment that it is only temporary at best. Without the Word of God we are spiritually impoverished in this life and in the life to come we are undone.

Now let us examine a tricky item;

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  (Matthew 4;5-7)

We have an American Church that is obsessed with displays of signs and wonders, but there is little evidence of repentance, healing, and deliverance. People seem to be willing to settle for the spectacular over the significant. Satan specializes in counterfeit signs and wonders.

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.  (Matthew 24:23-25)

And now for perhaps the greatest temptation that Jesus faced from Satan:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”  (Matthew 4:8-10)

Satan offered Jesus a shortcut. He could gain a “kingdom” without any sacrifice. He could complete His ministry without a cross. This is the Christianity that many American churches are offering today. Jesus has borne our sins on the cross for us, but he has said that we must take up our own cross. He has remitted all your sins on the cross when we accept what he has done for us. Are we now able to sin anew without any guilt?

We are on a journey. He is the way. We are to follow him. One of the ways of doing that is through a continual confession of our sins. The psalmist wrote:

Happy are they to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,
and in whose spirit there is no guile!
While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,
because of my groaning all day long.
For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;
my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and did not conceal my guilt.
I said,” I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.”
Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:2-6)

Lent helps us to come to grips with our sin, not to make us sad all the time. Rather, this season is an invitation to righteousness, peace, and joy in the Kingdom of God.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year A

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