- Deuteronomy 26:1-11
- Psalm 91:1-2
- Romans 10:8b-13
- Luke 4:1-13
On this first Sunday of Lent we read of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that Jesus was intentionally led into the desert, where he faced temptation by the devil.
The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples includes the phrase, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” As one who was tempted himself, Jesus was well acquainted with what it meant to face such trials. His forty days in the wilderness recall the fasts of Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), as well as the wandering of the Israelites in the desert (Deuteronomy 8:2-6).
Evelyn Underhill wrote in The Fruits of the Spirit, “No Christian escapes a taste of the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.”
Imagine a parched and hungry Jesus encountering the devil who tempted him to take care of his own needs, demonstrate supernatural gifts, and become ruler of the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus rejected them, responding with his own “creed” taken from Deuteronomy 4:4, 8, 12: “. . . One does not live by bread alone . . . Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him . . Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
In today’s Old Testament reading, Moses delivers his farewell address to the people. He reminds them of God’s mighty acts on their behalf. He also warns them of the temptations that will be brought about by new experiences as they enter the Promised Land of Canaan. To show that they do remember and celebrate, they must bring an offering to God’s sanctuary from the first fruit of every harvest they gather. This offering of first fruits is to acknowledge that the land God’s people possess and the bounty it yields are God’s gifts.
As we begin this season of Lent, may we use this time to look deep within our own hearts and seek God’s guidance to resist the temptations that beset us. May “Jesus is Lord” be our mantra for the coming forty days.
- After his Baptism, Jesus spent forty days alone in the wilderness. How do you think he might have felt, both physically and spiritually during this time? What was the significance of this event for Jesus himself, as well as for us, as we read about it today?
- List the human needs to which the devil appeals as he tempts Jesus. In what ways does the legitimacy of those needs make the temptation even greater?
- Relate the three temptations put before Jesus. What contemporary issues do they correlate to you in your life?
- What basic needs or desires do you have that are unmet? How might these become sources of temptation for you?
- What is the nature of evil as shown in today’s scriptures? How are we to recognize and resist evil today?
- What will your “creed” be for Lent this year?
- First Sunday in Lent, Year C (preachingthenewlectionary.com)