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Lent One Demonstrates What It Takes To Be Human

Lent One Demonstrates What It Takes To Be Human

 An overview of the biblical readings from the Lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent shows the Genesis story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, through Paul’s exploration of how Jesus functions as a “second Adam,” in Romans 5:12-19; to Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, Chapter 4:1-1.  In these readings we come to grips with what it is to be human.

When we understand that four of the five Sundays in Lent are inexplicably made up of passages from John’s gospel, we come to realize that, Lent 1 draws us to Matthew’s vivid portrayal of Jesus’ temptation that sets the stage for much of what is to come in Matthew’s account of the Gospel for Lent 1, as well as the season of Lent. It is true that the temptation of Jesus is referenced in Mark briefly but the scene is considerably given body in Luke’s and Matthew’s accounts.  They are suggesting a common source and that each is drafted to suit larger narrative purposes. We see that Matthew, for instance, portrays Jesus as fasting as a righteous Jew should. He also has a different ordering of the Tempter’s trials, placing the temptation to worship Satan as the culminating episode in the scene, one that calls for Jesus not just to reject the specific temptation, but the Tempter himself.

However, when one takes the three rejected temptations, they not only demonstrate that Jesus is righteous according to the law but also prove his identity as God’s divine and beloved son.  Here, Satan’s temptations get immediately to the core question of Jesus’ identity, calling into question his relationship with God by beginning with the provocation, “If, thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (4:6).   Satan had at that point confirmed what he had heard announced earlier at Jesus’ baptism.  Is it that he was trying something because he was fully aware of Jesus’ unswerving trust in God?

Satan’s intention through each temptation was inviting Jesus to turn away from His trust in God in a different way. In this form, he wanted Jesus to prove his sonship through a display of power; that is, by establishing his validity and worth through his own abilities. In the second, Satan tried in this temptation to test God’s fidelity. And in the third, he tried to bribe Jesus by a promise when he said, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (4:8). All Satan wanted was Jesus’ allegiance and devotion to him; but, instead, Jesus rejects the temptation and deposited His identity, future, and fortunes on God’s character and trustworthiness.

The key points for us to take away from this Gospel messages are: 1. Israel’s wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 40); and 2. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days (Matthew 4:1-11.  Just as the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years and had a deeper relationship with God; and Jesus went there as well for the same period and conquered the works of the devil. Jesus did this, simply by standing on Scripture and affirm His Commission to commence His public ministry. Christians today are called during this Lenten season to reaffirm their Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), to face their Easter victory with a willing heart emerging from their wanderings chastened, purified, and ready to inherit God’s blessings and promises. So also Jesus emerges from his trials confirmed in his identity and purified and strengthened for his awaiting mission.

Happy wandering “All.”

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