Going Deeper 3/8/2019

The Gospel reading for Lent 1...
Luke 4:1-13   Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.  The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread."  Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"  Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please.  If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."  Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"  Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,'  and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"  Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"  When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Preachers and others have going in several directions in terms of understanding and applying this story.  One of the themes I've multiple times has to do with taking note of how Jesus used verses from the Bible to hold off the tempter.  Yes, but also note how the tempter tried to use verses from the Bible as well.  Beware of "proof-texting"-- of finding passages that can be used out of context to validate what we have decided is true and empowering us to win theological arguments!! 

Yet it is true that there is more than one way this story can be understood and applied to our lives.  That said, it is important to understand the big picture of what is going on in the temptation narrative.

It is tempting to conclude that it was because of His divinity that Jesus was able to withstand the wiles of the devil.  No!!  Jesus did not have to follow the road to the cross.  As in the story of Eve and Adam, Jesus had the free will to succumb to the temptations.  Only it was not His divinity that caused Him to stand strong, but rather His love.  Just as in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus could have backed off and sought a "Plan B", but instead cried "Thy will, not mine, be done!"  And Jesus could have come down from the cross to save Himself.  It was not the nails that held Him there... but rather His love.

The core truth of this story is the incredible love demonstrated by Jesus, which fueled both His commitment and His willingness to walk the road laid out before Him.  During Lent, we will walk the road with Jesus, pondering the depth of our sinful brokenness in order to more fully comprehend the depth of His unconditional love.

Walking with You,
Mark Gabbert