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Lay The Bright Temptation Down

Jesus said to him, 'Begone, Satan!' For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him alone shall you serve'
Matthew 4:1-11

Sermon Topic Temptation

Sermon Week First Sunday of Lent Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 4:10


In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus moves from the banks of the Jordan River (scene of His baptism) into the dry, barren, lonely wilderness. He had heard His Father's voice from the heavens: "You are My Son, the beloved; My favor rests on You" (Lk. 3:22), and in these words, His ordination was complete. Now His public ministry of proclaiming the coming Kingdom is about to begin. His spirit is consumed with desire to know the Father's will and to carry it out faithfully. And, as Jesus reflects on these things in the wilderness, His spirit is caught up in the very human process of discovery. With all humanity, He experiences the terrible inner-conflict, the spiritual turmoil that accompanies any serious reflection on life and its meaning, on God and His purposes. As God's Son, how was He to act? How was He to proceed? As leader of the New Israel, how was He to fulfill His role?

Satan tempts Jesus three times. First, he challenges Jesus to make a hard decision. Jesus is fasting in the desert. Therefore, the devil's first proposal -- "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread" (Mt. 4:3) -- must be an appealing one. Should Jesus use His power merely to satisfy His craving for food? Should He, perhaps, then go and do likewise for all the hungry people who have been impoverished by the oppressive Roman tax-collectors?

Surely the overturning of social injustice is a proper Christian concern. Indeed it is a necessary Christian concern. Man, after all, does live by bread. But this and other such concerns are not ends in themselves. They are means to an end. The end of all our searching and questing, our working and sweating, our laughing and crying, is God -- the Eternal Love. The works of love among our human brothers and sisters point us in the direction of the Eternal Love. The search for Eternal Love begins here and now in the discovery of love in one another. This is God's plan of salvation, God's design for the [...]

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