February 14- The First Sunday of Lent

Reading 1:  Reading 2:  Reading 3:  Reading 4: 
Deuteronomy 26: 1-11 Psalm 91: 1-2 & 9-16 Romans 10: 8b-13 Luke 4:1-13

by Benjamin Cowan

Luke 4:1-13

The Gospel reading this week tells the story of Jesus as he faced temptation, something that we face throughout our lives but are more particularly aware of during the season of Lent. However, the text tells us immediately that Jesus does not face temptation alone, but with the Spirit. Temptations do not have to be faced alone; we can face them with the help of the Spirit and also the people that God has brought into our lives. In the wilderness on his 40 day fast, Jesus faces three temptations. First, to turn a stone into bread; Jesus responds that one does not live by bread alone. Jesus is saying that one does not live by what one desires in the moment only but to the mission and purpose of the kingdom of God. It is here that we should examine our lives and ask the question: are we living by our desires and by consequence, are we willing to do whatever it takes to achieve our desires or are we willing to sacrifice our desires to stand in solidarity with the mission of God to the brokenhearted, the poor, and the oppressed? The cry of the poor in our world today is for bread. How will we stand with them?

The second temptation is to take power over the world in return for worshiping Satan. In this text, Jesus rejects power by force or coercion over the nations. Instead, he recognizes that God’s method is to speak to people and give them a choice. Furthermore, he refuses to worship the devil, who works through manipulation and coercion. Jesus worships God only. Jesus affirms in this act his belief that love and persuasion are greater than fear and coercion. Finally, Jesus is asked to throw himself from the temple to prove that he is the Son of God and responds that one does not put the Lord to the test. In this temptation, Jesus accepts his place as truly human—as we are, he is. He refuses to portray himself in a manner above mortal existence, but like us, he lives; not breaking the laws of nature but respecting them. This is what concrete embodied existence is and Jesus embraces. In life we will all face temptations that give us a chance to rely on ourselves, deny the relationality of life, to side with power, and to exert ourselves in a dominant manner. By the help of the Spirit and the community of the Spirit, we can overcome these temptations. In temptation, we are forced to ask the question who do we put or faith in—God or ourselves? If we hold fast to faith, even in temptation, God is with us!

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

The Deuteronomic text outlines the response of the person who has put there hope and faith in God. Namely, it calls us to be thankful and to remember the good things that God has done. The text takes us through a retelling of how God brought the people out of the land of Egypt and into the promise land. The text asks to remember what God has done for us and to be grateful. In Deuteronomy, the people brought thanks offering to the place were God dwells. In the gospels, we are told that God dwells now with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the prisoner, the stranger, and the sick (Matthew 25:35-45). Let us remember to show gratitude to God in the manner in which God has prescribed.

Romans 10:8b-13

The Pauline passage reminds us of to hold fast to the one in whom we believe. This passage calls us to have faith in Jesus and, by extension, the God of Jesus. This faith is an embodied faith that calls us to compassionate action and imitation of Jesus—who served the oppressed, stood with the poor, and lived out the words of God.

Psalm 91:1-2 & 9-16

Finally, the psalm serves as a call to worship—to remember the Lord our God and good things God has done for God’s people. In song, lets us sing songs that acknowledge our God and let us sing of his mercy and grace that has been shown towards us. It is in God of Jesus the Christ we believe and put our faith and hope in.