Sunday, February 17, 2013

Imagine No Malaria - Lenten Devotion Day 5: February 17

Sunday, February 17, 2013: Jesus Renounces the Tempter 
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.” 

There are times when we have to say “No.” Even “no” to things that, at first glance, may appear to be good things. As Jesus went into the wilderness he was tempted by Satan in a number of ways. In each case he takes a stand against the tempter, even though in many regards the things he is being offered could be good for him, things that would benefit his ministry. 
The first temptation was the offer of bread. Have you ever gone to the grocery when you are hungry – everything looks good. Even if I went in to buy a couple of things, if I am hungry, I come out with a basket load. Worst of all, most of the things I’ve bought are the most unhealthy choices possible. Now imagine going to a grocery after not eating for a number of days? Surely, after fasting for forty days, the stones were, indeed, beginning to look a bit like loaves of bread. Jesus was being tempted to succumb to the focus his mission on himself and his own needs, rather than the great mission God had called him to. 
The second temptation was about winning the favor of human beings by putting on an amazing show. Can you imagine how Jesus’ fame would spread if people heard stories about him jumping from the pinnacle of the temple only to be saved from sure death at the very last second by angels? Couldn’t this be a good thing for him? He is trying to draw crowds and win converts, right? Couldn’t this be part of his outreach plan? 
The final temptation has everything to do with temptation to gain power. Jesus was tempted by Satan to sell his soul for “all the power in the world.” Satan was saying: “Jesus, you can be a King! And not just A king, you can be THE king. You can be King of the entire World! Imagine what good you could do with all that power. All you have to do is partner with me. But Jesus knew this too was not the kingdom way. God’s kingdom grows up from below as the poor hear the good news, the imprisoned find liberation, the hungry are fed and the blind come to see. 
Most of the things that tempt us are good things. In many ways the things that tempt us are similar to the temptations laid before Christ – the lure of having our human needs met, the promise of popularity, power and prestige. In their place these things are not evil in themselves. What made them evil in this case? They were evil because they were seductive promises that would draw Jesus away from the mission of the kingdom. He was being tempted to let his own interests take precedence over the call of God. To follow God means to put God first before all else and not let ourselves be seduced by the wiles of the tempter. 

Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to not take our eyes off of you. Help us not be seduced by the promises of the world that lead us to turn away from your desire for us. We need your help God to see clearly and remain focused on the work you would have us do. 

Rev. Clayton Childers, Virginia, General Board of Church and Society 

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