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Posts Tagged ‘sermon on Genesis 3’

'the temptation' photo (c) 2008, Harold Heindell Tejada - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Here is a sermon from my archives for the first Sunday in Lent, Year C:

An Opportune Time
A Sermon on Genesis 3 and Luke 4:1-13

I used to think that my struggles would be over once I grew up.  Or at least things would be easier.  I thought grownups had all the answers, or at least knew where to find the answers. They knew where they were going. They knew what to do.  They could proceed into the future with confidence.

Well, I grew up, and I found out that grownups don’t have it so simple, and very few answers do come easily.  Grownups often have to struggle to find the way.  Sometimes they stumble towards the future.  It is tempting to seek out somebody who does seem to have their act together and then try to do what they do.

If that’s the way it is for human beings, why are we so surprised to see Jesus searching for the way?  If Jesus came to be one of us, if he truly was human, then how could he be exempt from the human struggle?  Yes, Jesus had known from childhood that he was put here to be about God’s business.  That’s what he told Mary and Joseph when he was twelve years old, when he stayed behind in the Temple in Jerusalem, discussing the scriptures with the elders.  Remember?  He knew it, yet he still struggled.

In our lesson today, Jesus was now around thirty, well into middle age measured by the average lifespan of that day.  He was middle-aged and he still hadn’t launched his public ministry.  What was going on?  Why all this waiting?  After Jesus was baptized, instead of handing Jesus a detailed agenda and itinerary and sending him off to work, God sent him off by himself.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for a marathon of fasting and prayer.   He was still facing the questions of when, where and who and how.  Jesus knew what God was aiming at: salvation for all humanity.  Healing.  Release.  New life.  But how?  How to go about it?

The devil saw a golden opportunity.  This was an opportune time if there ever was one.  Why?  Jesus was needy.  Jesus was hungry, and tired, and asking hard questions.  Jesus was also eager to accomplish something good.  Open to suggestion?  Quite possibly.

Three times the devil’s voice broke in on Jesus.  First it said, “Since you are the Son of God, use your power and turn this stone into a loaf of bread.  Eat.”  Notice how sensible, how practical the devil’s suggestion was.  He’s not telling Jesus to go do something immoral.  Jesus needed to eat.  There were rocks all around, lots of them.  He had the power.  Here was a simple way to solve this problem.  And think of all the other hungry people he could feed!  The supply of rocks was unlimited!

Then the devil said, “Look at all the kingdoms of the earth.  Here, look!  I can give them to you.  I know how they work.  I control them.  Make a deal with me, worship me, and they’re yours.”  Again, practical.  Power gets things done in this world.  Money talks.  This is the tried and true.  Think of all you can accomplish with these resources at your command.  You can make things happen, Jesus!  The good end justifies the means.

And then the devil quoted scripture, saying, “Put Psalm 91 into action, where it says that the angels will catch you, so you won’t even stub your toe.  Jump off the Temple and prove it.”  True, it is in the scripture.  “Here is a way to force the people to admit that you really are who you say you are, Jesus.  They’ll have to listen to you.  You’ll have the Temple authorities right where you want them.”

The devil gave Jesus a whole list of ways to take the bull by the horns and seize success.  Jesus, this works!  Take my advice and great things will happen!

But if Jesus says “yes” here’s what else will happen:  (more…)

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