1st Sunday Lent – Year A

 

 

Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he had deliberately gone without food for forty days and forty nights he was hungry. So the tempter came and said to him, “If you really are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” He answered: “It stands written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds through the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the Temple. “If you really are the son of God,” he said to him, “fling yourself down, for it stands written, He will give his angels orders to care for you, and they will lift you upon their hands, lest at any time you should strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it stands written, ‘You must not try to put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again the devil took him to a very lofty mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, and said to him, “I will give you all these things, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it stands written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him alone you will serve.'” Then the devil left him alone, and behold, angels came and gave him their service.

Barclay

  1. “Tempt” = There is one thing which we must carefully note right at the beginning of our study of the temptations of Jesus, and that is the meaning of the word to tempt. The Greek word is peirazein (Greek #3985). In English the word “tempt” has a uniformly and consistently bad meaning. It always means to entice a man to do wrong, to seek to seduce him into sin, to try to persuade him to take the wrong way. But peirazein (Greek #3985) has a quite different element in its meaning. It means to test far more than it means to tempt in our sense of the word.
  2. The great and uplifting truth about “temptation” = What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin. It is not meant to make us bad, it is meant to make us good. It is not meant to weaken us, it is meant to make us emerge stronger and finer and purer from the ordeal. Temptation is not the penalty of being a man, temptation is the glory of being a man. It is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use. So, then, we must think of this whole incident, not so much the tempting, as the testing of Jesus.
  3. Jesus went to be alone –  In that wilderness Jesus could be more alone than anywhere else in Palestine. Jesus went into the wilderness to be alone. His task had come to him; God had spoken to him; he must think how he was to attempt the task which God had given him to do; he had to get things straightened out before he started; and he had to be alone. It may well be that we often go wrong simply because we never try to be alone. There are certain things which a man has to work out alone. There are times when no one else’s advice is any good to him. There are times when a man has to stop acting and start thinking. It may be that we make many a mistake because we do not give ourselves a chance to be alone with God.
  4. All three gospel writers seem to stress the immediacy with which the temptations followed the baptism of Jesus. As Mark has it: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12)… We will do well to be specially on our guard after every time life has brought us to the heights, for it is just then that we are in gravest danger of the depths.
  5. We must not regard this experience of Jesus as an outward experience. It was a struggle that went on in his own heart and mind and soul. The proof is that there is no possible mountain from which all the kingdoms of the earth could be seen. This is an inner struggle.
  6. We must not think that in one campaign Jesus conquered the tempter for ever and that the tempter never came to him again. “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” In the Christian warfare there is no release. Sometimes people grow worried because they think that they should reach a stage when they are beyond temptation, a stare at which the power of the tempter is for ever broken. Jesus never reached that stage. From the beginning to the end of the day he had to fight his battle; that is why he can help us to fight ours.
  7. One thing stands out about this story–the temptations are such as could only come to a person who had very special powers and who knew that he had them. Sanday described the temptations as “the problem of what to do with supernatural powers.”… We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts.
  8. No one can ever read this story without remembering that its source must have been Jesus himself. In the wilderness he was alone. No one was with him when this struggle was being fought out. And we know about it only because Jesus himself must have told his men about it. It is Jesus telling us his own spiritual autobiography. We must always approach this story with a unique and special reverence, for in it Jesus is laying bare his inmost heart and soul. He is telling men what he went through. It is the most sacred of all stories, for in it Jesus is saying to us that he can help others who are tempted because he himself was tempted. He draws the veil from his own struggles to help us in our struggle.
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