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.
This is the first Sunday in Lent. Let’s keep this somber, remorseful, and no one have any joy at all. We are going to talk about temptations. Temptations are dangerous. When you fall for a temptation you get somber, remorseful, and joy flees.
I want to do this Sunday right and set us up for a fabulous Lent. If we don’t get in to the Spirit of being somber properly than how can we celebrate Easter with the glee and fancy it deserves. Lent is a time of getting ready. Lent is a period to fight against temptations.
What temptations have you given up? Chocolate? Adult beverages? Worrying? Soda? Gossip? Not giving anything up? I bet you are committing yourself to prayer…studying the word…holy listening…the gym?
Is Lent all about temptations and resisting them?
When I was a kid my mom had this little red Fiat that just barely worked. We had to keep the windows down all the time because the engine exhaust leaked into the cabin. And when it rained we had to be careful as to not speed through puddles so the car would not stall. If it did my twin brother and I would get out and help mom push the car out of the puddles.
But inside that little barley working Fiat I watched my world zip by. I remember the cat faces in the wash on the way to visit my grandma, the rocket and airplane fuselages that littered the playgrounds we past on the way to the city pool, and the tree lined street on the way to the horse track. All of these memories fueled by three 8-track tapes.
There was Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Commodores, and The Temptations. Our little adventures were backed by Oh No, Lady (You Bring Me Up), Let Me Talk, Sparkle, and Just My Imagination. My brothers and I would fight over who played DJ. I can’t imagine how sick of those three albums my mom was after the summer of 82.
I can’t listen to any of those bands with out thinking of that summer. I still love The Temptations. They are the comfort food of my youthful soul.
Temptations. I love to imagine Jesus here being tempted by the sweet, soulful sounds of David, Melvin, Paul, Otis, and Eddie. It makes me laugh. Imagine Jesus out there in the wilderness with headphones on, wandering around. He’s so in to the music that he forgets to eat. The devil appears and chats him up, offering temptations along the way.
Temptation comes in many flavors. Righteousness. Food. Power. There is also the temptation to horde in fear that there is not going to be enough in Gods divine abundance. Temptation seeks to cloud the who and what you are in the light of Christ. Temptation seeks to whisper lies in your ear to get you to doubt in the abundance of God’s love.
Temptations. Y’all are still somber, remorseful, and have no joy…cause if you don’t have any of those three I am going to pause and ask you to invite it in to your heart…wait.
Wait, a second. Is Lent about somber, remorse, and joylessness?
Not this year. We are going to use Lent as a time of wandering, wondering, and rest. I challenge you to not seek God in resisting temptations but to seek God in the healthy relationship with that which tempts you. Resist the urge to engage Lent like a Jesusy crash diet or divine leverage on bad habits that needs taming.
The Temptations are to soul what Jesus is to the cross. The Temptations redefined soul and transcended it. Jesus redefined the cross and transcended it. Let us be like The Temptations with our temptations. Temptations are our friends for the next 40 days. I urge you to reorient your lives towards God in prayer, study, and rest. Pray with God. Study on God. Rest in God.
We have no space to be somber as we are wandering with God. We have no room for remorse as we wonder with God. We cannot deny the joy in our hearts as we rest with God.
Let Lent be a time of preparation. Let temptations deliver us closer to God and to each other. Something big is coming. We know there’s enough for everyone at the Lord’s Table. We trust the light of Christ that shines before us. We rest in the whispered lullabies of God telling us that we are indeed loved.