1st Sunday of Lent - March 3, 2019 (Thoman)

Dt. 26:4-10 | Rom 10:8-13 | Lk 4:1-13

I. Who are you?
Are you thinking…my name is…I live at such-n-such Elm Street…I am married
and have three children…I work at…etc.? That is one way to define identity.
Another way to define identity is this: You are a child of God. You are a son
or daughter of God. That is an identity every disciple of Jesus shares.

II. We come now to the season of Lent – a season for renewal – a season for
deepening our identity as a baptized child of God.
We just heard in the gospel…Jesus was baptized and then went into the desert
where he spent forty days and forty nights.

Think of that experience: arid, little water, little food, hot, dangerous with
both wild animals and bandits and the cast-a-ways, the misfits of society. How
would you feel if you had just spent 40 days trying to survive in the desert?
Jesus is leaving the desert and the devil comes to him. The devil catches him
at a vulnerable time. One would think it would be easy to get Jesus to fall to
temptations. How easy it is to fall to temptation when we are tired, exhausted,
when our defenses are down.

III. And so the devil comes to him: the devil is tempting him in his identity as the
Son of God – what the devil is saying is that, “If you are truly the Son of God, then
then prove it….

A. You’re hungry…starving for food – so turn this stone into bread: after all,
the Son of God ought to be able to satisfy his own hunger!

B. Look at all the kingdoms of the world….think of the power you could have.
Surely the Son of God would want this power.

C. The devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple – if you are the Son of
God then jump down from here. Surely, God in heaven would not want his
Son to be harmed!

And each time Jesus overcame the temptation – he remained steadfast, quoting
a passage from scripture – Jesus was demonstrating his first allegiance to his
Father in heaven and his clear vision of his priorities. Jesus did not cave in to
the temptations.

IV. As Jesus, we, too, are tempted.

  • We are tempted with the passing pleasures of the world, the material things
    of the world.
  • We are tempted to seek fame, notoriety, attention.
  • We are tempted also to seek control over, perhaps, things we don’t need to
  • We are tempted to seek our own selfish ways…to forego the discipline
    required to grow as a disciple of Jesus.
  • Resisting temptation is probably most difficult when we are most vulnerable:
    • when we are physically exhausted...
    • emotionally drained after a difficult conversation or frustrating
    • or at a time when we are spiritually weak...questioning God, angry
      with God, doubting in faith, when our relationship with God has
      grown cold
    • or in those moments of self-pity when we are feeling sorry for
      ourselves, when we are down and out – when we tell ourselves I
      deserve a drink! I deserve a break! I deserve this or that pleasure.

It is in those moments we need to muster up the remind ourselves of who we
are: I am a disciple of Jesus. I am a friend of Jesus. I am an ambassador for
Jesus. And this is not how friends of Jesus act. Friends of Jesus are loyal and
Faithful, committed to Jesus. They keep the long term perspective.

V. One time Satan was looking for fresh ideas on how to get more people to hell and
so he called together a group of his apprentice devils and asked them for some

  • One apprentice…tell them there is no God…we tried that
  • A second apprentice devil…tell them there is no hell…devil more annoyed
    than ever…people figure out mass murderers and people like Mother Teresa
    can’t end up in the same place…
  • A third apprentice…tell them there’s no hurry
  • ...And Satan smiled

VI. Lent is not about feeling more guilt, but simply embrace who you are…a child of
God: when tempted make the choice that deepens that identity…indeed, think
of the long-term – not only heaven or hell but the beauty of the way life can be
when we choose the good over the bad.

As we begin this Lenten season, we are called to deepen our faith journey with the
choices we make. We are called to embrace a living faith, a life-enriching faith, a
Spirit filled faith. This is the faith that shines forth from us as children of God. It is a
faith which brings us to the fullness of life.

(Fr. Dwayne Thoman)