Lent 1 C 2022 The Temptation of Christ
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There once was a man who was overweight and decided that he would lose weight. He was very careful and stuck to the diet the doctor had recommended to him. He even changed his route to work so he would not pass by his favorite bakery. However, one day, he came to work with a big coffee cake and a dozen chocolate donuts. His coworkers chewed him out because they knew how hard he had tried to follow his diet.
The man told his coworkers that he could explain. “You see, I accidently drove past my favorite bakery today and I saw people leaving the store with all kinds of delicious treats.
So, I prayed. I prayed to God and said “If you think I should go and purchase some of these delicious pastries, open a parking spot for me right in front of the bakery. Guess what, on the eighth time around there was an open parking spot right in front of the bakery.”’
The First Sunday in Lent is traditionally the day when the Holy Christian Church focuses on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. And it is a story that most of us know well. This year, the text that is presented to us comes from the Gospel according to St. Luke where we are told “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, He was famished.”
Other years we hear the account from Mathew or Mark, but the message is clear. In all three accounts, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and experienced the same temptations we all face when we are tricked into going against the will of God.
During the forty days in the wilderness, the devil tried to trick Jesus into disobeying God, and the devil tried to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His mission. Since Jesus was both human and Divine, the devil’s method reflected that fact and included temptations beyond what the devil would use against us. For example, it is highly unlikely that we as humans would be tempted to change a rock into bread if we were starving.
And it is extremely unlikely that the devil would offer you or I all authority under heaven to gain our support and loyalty. And it is doubtful that we would be taken to the highest pinnacle of the Temple and asked to jump off to prove that we would be taken care of by angels in an emergency.
No, what the devil really wanted was for Jesus to act in a selfish manner and to save Himself, rather than trust that God would take care of Him.
Well, in a related way, the devil uses a similar tactic in our lives and tempts us to act in self-serving ways also. Using greed, lust, envy, the urge to be number one, and a whole list of other self-serving actions, the devil tries to steer us away from God and the blessing God has in store for us.
Every day we are bombarded with the temptation to put ourselves first and to ignore the fact that God is God, and we are not God. Thankfully, Jesus allowed Himself to be led into the wilderness to do what we cannot do on our own. And Jesus faced the temptations that we cannot resist on our own. He did this to give us hope, and strength as we face the temptations that come our way.
Yes, we will face temptation. And as hard as we try to follow God and resist the temptations that come our way, we will continue to sin and miss the mark. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “For all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 And Paul further stated: “I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do.” Romans 7:19
The Good News is that Jesus did not fall short of the Glory of God, and Jesus resisted temptation with God’s Word, and then Jesus left the wilderness to go and live out the Redeeming Activity God had sent Him to accomplish in God’s creation.
Jesus died for us and for our salvation. Jesus paid the price for our sins. The Season of Lent, therefore, is a time for us to mindfully face our sins and ask for forgiveness. And Lent is a time for us to experience again the hope and grace that God gives to each one of us.
And as we do so, let us also be mindful that Jesus was not just tempted in the wilderness but was tempted throughout His life.
In the last verse of today’s Gospel reading, we read “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13
On Good Friday we will hear the last temptation that Jesus faced. As Jesus was hanging on the Cross, this temptation was directed towards Him. “If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross.” Matthew 27:1 And Jesus responded “No!” to this temptation as well.
My friends: The devil never slacks off trying to tempt us to act in self-serving ways that will lead us away from God. And despite how much we try to resist, we will fall short. Even so, God continues to offer us hope through His Son Jesus our Lord. And this truth is expressed beautifully in Psalm 23 when the Psalmist writes “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.”
God promises us that we will never be alone. And God promises that He will continue to come to us, to forgive us, and sustain us, and renew us, until that day when the veil will be lifted, and we will clearly see God face to face. Amen.
Let us pray: Almighty God, your Son fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are but did not sin. Give us grace to direct out lives in obedience to your Spirit, that as you know our weakness, so we may know your power to save. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.