First Sunday in Lent

March 13, 2011: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Psalm 32: Of David. A Maskil.
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Matthew 4:1-11:
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4 But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 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.” 7 Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan, for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.”

First Sunday in Lent Comment: I have always been fascinated by this account of Jesus’ desert experience. Christian theology teaches that Jesus is both God and human. So was Jesus able to fast forth days and live possible only because he was divine? You might find it interesting to know that with practice it was humanly possible for Jesus to go that long without food, as long as he drank two quarts or more of water per day. We read in Luke that many times Jesus went into the desert to talk to God. Over time the combination of physical fortitude and spiritual/mental discipline enabled Jesus to ‘hold up’ under the weight hunger and the temptation from Satan.

Every January Christians and non-Christians yield to the irresistible urge to make resolutions because of the desire for self improvement. Lent is the season when Christians, for positive reasons, traditionally combine both physical and spiritual sacrifices in the form of fasts. The difference between the making of resolutions and the discipline of fasting is that a resolution’s goal is self improvement while fasts are intended for transformation. As we identify with Jesus we are being shaped into his image. If we hang in there, the length of the Lenten season, forty days is long enough to change a spiritual struggle, a mindset and a habit.

The process is not easy and I don’t believe it was easy for Jesus either. But during our struggles we have these encouraging words of the Psalmist to echo in our hearts.

You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7

Welcome to the Blessed says of Lent
Rev. Julia
©March 11, 2011

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