Sunday, March 1 – First Sunday in Lent

Reader: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” 

Response: “to be tempted there by the devil.”

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,

    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect you.

And they will hold you up with their hands

    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God

    and serve only him.’”

Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Reader: The word of the Lord

Response: Thanks be to God.

Some thoughts:
Yesterday we heard Jesus’ words regarding one who would cause another to sin and how it would be better for that person to be drowned in the depths of the sea. In the passage you just read, we see the devil occupying that position as one tempting Jesus to sin. This was not Satan’s first attempt to thwart God’s plan of redemption, though his goal and his tactics are always the same . . . bring death. In the Garden of Eden the test concerned food (the fruit of the tree); testing God’s word (Did God really say?); and worshiped (“you will be like God”). His desire to be God and to be worshiped, “I will be like the Most High,” got him kicked out of heaven (Is.14:13-14; Ezek. 28:14-17).  The Second Adam’s food was nourishment from the word of God. Secondly, rather than test God, Jesus trusted God’s word of protection. And finally, rather than worship the devil, Jesus humbled himself and worshiped and served his Father in obedience. The First Adam in the Garden fell and did something to us. The Second Adam triumphed over the devil and did something for us. But the devil is relentless both then and now. He tried to kill Jesus at his birth. He tempted Jesus in this passage. Through Peter’s words, he sought to convince Jesus not to give his life as a ransom for sin eliciting Jesus’ strongest rebuke to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” Perhaps the final time was in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus sweat great drops of blood coming to his conclusion, “Not my will, but thine be done.”  Make no mistake, the devil continues to create as much havoc as possible in our world and seems to be doing a good job. In our world of competing values and viewpoints, remember Jesus’ own words, “It is written . . .” Stay in the Scriptures each day as you converse with the Lord. It behooves us to know “what is written.”

Music: “What Wondrous Love Is This”  Chelsea Moon with Franz Brothers

Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy affection may drag downwards;

Give me an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out;

Give me an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.

Bestow on me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.   ―Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274