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Artwork: Ilya Repin, Follow Me, Satan (Temptation of Jesus Christ)

Bible readings: Psalm 91; 2 Corinthians 6.1-10; Matthew 4.1-11

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I speak to you in the Name of Jesus Christ,  who learned obedience through what he suffered. Amen.  

Friends, this season of Lent is meant to be for us what fasting in the wilderness was for Jesus – a time of discipline, preparation, and training. 

That’s true every Lent but perhaps all the more so this year in this time of pandemic/plague/pestilence) (Ps. 91.3).  

Again, Lent is a time of preparation and training - 'spring training,' you might say.  

But to what end? What are we training for? What are we meant to learn? How are we meant to grow and develop? What skills are we meant to practice and acquire.                         

Two words: mindfulness and obedience.  

Your Lenten mission, should you choose to accept it (!), is to learn mindfulness and obedience to God by entering into the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection – to learn what this means, to have it made more real to your life, by dying to sin and growing in likeness to Him.  

Mindfulness. During these 40 days, we journey through the wilderness of our souls and become aware of all the ways in which we are far from God.  You and I must come to terms with how we fall prey to the very same temptations that Jesus Himself resisted; then we must draw near to Him and ask for His mercy and grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4.16).  

Because He can sympathize with our weaknesses - in every respect He has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4.15).  

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus is tempted by Satan in three different ways; and we are meant to see these as being basically the same as the temptations that we also face in our lives.  

  1. to give into our disordered appetites and desires.
  2. to test God or to try to use Him for our own ends; and
  3. the temptation of pride, power and control.      

In this story, Matthew shows us what the author of Hebrews tells us: that Jesus learns obedience by suffering and resisting temptation in these ways.  

Friends, if we’re honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have fallen prey to these same temptations in our lives.  

So in this season of Lent, may we learn to put our faith and trust - not in our own efforts of self-improvement - but in Christ’s obedience in our place, an obedience that lasted even unto death on the Cross.  

May we lean on His strength alone so that we may walk in newness of life and with renewed resistance to all manner of temptations that beset us.   

I will say unto the LORD, ‘Thou art my refuge and my stronghold; / my God in whom I will trust.’ (Ps. 91.2)

 

[These sermon notes are expanded upon in the recording below]

 


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