Luke 4:1-13 (Children’s Scripture) • Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 • Psalm 32 • Romans 5:12-19 • Matthew 6
Psalm 32 (Responsive Reading)
This is the first week of Lent, the beginning of our approach to a recognition of the cross and empty grave – it is the beginning of our official preparation, through repentance and discipline, to take our own journey to further grasp and celebrate the truth of God’s love and sacrifice for us. This Psalm addresses the essential nature of, and relief in, the personal act of repentance. Just prior to the start of Jesus ministry, the people were physically in preparation for the coming Messiah as John called for them to ‘repent’, to gain a ‘new perspective’, a calling that Jesus continued as he stepped out of the desert following his time in the wilderness.
Genesis 22:15-17, 3:1-7
There are many ‘why?’ questions we surely want to ask when we read these verses. Why did God place a tree in the garden on which held the forbidden fruit. Why was a serpent talking? Why did the serpent want Eve to eat the forbidden fruit? Why did she eat it? Why did Adam not stop her? Why did Adam eat it? WHY?!? Good question…. Some answer by saying that God put the tree there for the same reason he gave humans the ability to make our own choices. Others label Eve, and therefore all women, as being the cause of evil in the garden and in all of humanity because Eve ate first. There are many answers proposed, some given as fact when they may not be, others answers proposed that seem very viable. First, the serpent is never labeled as being Satan or a fallen angel, he is called the ‘most crafty’ of the animals but he does use the same tactics we see Satan use in the Jesus’ time of temptation in the wilderness – a tactic of using the truth to deceive. Second, Adam was standing right beside Eve during the entire engagement with the serpent – Eve was no more guilty than was Adam – they both made their own choice. While this passage is replete with ‘why’ questions, it is also full of opportunity to think about, and to seek truth, about God and ourselves.
This section of Paul’s letter to the Romans is an explanation of the events of our Genesis passage for this week – the introduction of sin as compared with the work of Jesus. While the ‘man’, Adam and Eve, gave sin and death the power over man when they chose to disobey God – Jesus gives us the opportunity to return to life through reconciliation with God. Paul explains that sin was in total control until, through Moses, God gave the law – the explanation and boundaries of ‘how to live in freedom (with a choice)’. This opportunity of grace through Jesus is a gift bonding all believers regardless of labels and other distinctions.
As Jesus comes near to the end of his first official message to his followers, he turns the conversation in a more personal and intimate direction. No longer is the main emphasis on what is seen but is now directed at what is inside of us, what motivates us, our central core. In this section, Jesus addresses the practice of our faith and the true motivation that leads us to these practices.
Following the baptism of Jesus, we see that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for a time of fasting and prayer. This time was a time of preparation for what was immediately ahead as well as the entirety of his journey. This section of Luke details the experience of Jesus as he completed the fasting and prayer for an equally intense and exhausting time of temptation, face to face with Satan. As he entered this time, Jesus was understandably famished and exhausted, it was Satan’s most preferred time to confront and tempt people – Satan felt sure that it was the perfect time to tempt Jesus. The three temptations all included truth used in a deceptive way – each attempt failed. As Jesus resists all three of the Satan’s maneuvers, the passage tells us that Satan left for a more opportune time, a time when Jesus may be even more exhausted and famished.