First Sunday of Lent – The Church in the Wilderness
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The Church in the Wilderness
There was a teenage boy, turns 18 and is graduating from high school, does very well and has good grades. The young man comes home on the last day of school, says: “Dad, I graduated top in my class in high school!” and dad says: “That’s great son, I'm so proud of you. Now, when are you moving out?”
Sounds like our Gospel lesson. The voice from the heavens at the baptism says – “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you, I am well pleased”. Then the Spirit immediately drives Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the tempter.
The Spirit throws Jesus out into the Wilderness. A dangerous place where temptation happens.
Mark does not talk about how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Matthew’s Gospel tells us temptations were about hunger, earthly power, and fame.
Let us look at those three temptations more closely… and in those three temptations… we see Jesus the second Adam - as the Apostle Paul calls him - do exactly the opposite of what Adam and Eve did:
The first temptation is for Jesus to turn the stone into bread.
The temptation is about who is in control. It is about doubting God’s goodwill.
It is like when the serpent whispered to Eve that God’s motivation in forbidding them to eat from this fruit is not to let them to have their eyes open knowing good and evil.
Jesus did not turn the stone into bread, rather He committed himself to trust in God’s providence in the wilderness.
The second temptation is for Jesus to worship the devil in return for earthly power.
this temptation is about seeking shortcuts to God’s goals. Jesus refused the offer, although he knew that refusing the offer means a long, hard way to the cross and beyond.
Adam and Eve saw a shortcut to knowledge and wisdom by eating from the fruit of the tree which God prohibited them to eat from it…
The third temptation is for Jesus to throw himself off the Temple, to be caught by God’s angels. This is about putting God to the test. Something we do the same.
Jesus passed through all the temptations which we usually pass through in our daily life. Why???
Jesus needed the wilderness experience.
He needed to experience suffering & temptation. so that He could understand our temptations and offer us healing and strength to overcome the temptation.
God’s Spirit has thrown us in the wilderness of temptation for a purpose.
Historically, In the bible, Trust in God happens in the wilderness. After the wilderness, the people of Israel were ready to trust in God and follow Him. After the wilderness, Jesus was ready for ministry.
Our wilderness invites us to imitate Jesus and discover anew what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
In the wilderness, Jesus prayed, Jesus fasted and focused on God who is enough.
This Lent, as we seek to grow in faith and discipleship to Jesus. Let us read the bible daily. Let us fast to bring ourselves closer to God. and let us speak to God daily in prayer as we serve and relate with others. Let us give and live generously so that we experience the life - saving, Jesus.