Tempted But Not Defeated
1st Sunday of Lent
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
March 01, 2020
Readings: Genesis 2: 4b-9; 15-17; 25-3:7
Romans 15: 12- 21
Matthew 4: 1-11
The season of Lent should not be a time of sorrow. If we truly are to understand its significance, it should give us hope. In the garden when Satan tempted man, he said that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge would give him ability to judge between good and evil. In the world we live in today, we set ourselves up as “judges.” We are always criticizing and judging what we like and what we don’t like. We are a pleasure- seeking people. We complain about every little thing. We do not like things that do not give us pleasure or comfort.
We start the Lenten season with prayer. The Litany, if you meditate on the words encompasses everything that God should be to us and what He has already done and will still continue to do in our lives. Christmas showed us that God gave a Gift to us. He gave us Jesus. In Epiphany, the fullness of this gift was made known by the truth that God is with us. In Lent, we are reminded over and over to understand what Christ had to go through in order for the God-given life to be restored.
Many times when something good happens, a testing follows. But rather than thinking that God is punishing us, we should instead have the attitude of awareness that God is with us. And this should serve as a challenge that if He is with us, He would want us to overcome the test. In life, we are being tested so that we can be made strong. After Christ’s baptism came the testing. He was led to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He had been in fasting for 40 days and nights and was hungry. So the devil tempted Him three times:
1st temptation – If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. Jesus’ reply was, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
2nd temptation – If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for angels will lift you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus’ response was, do not put the Lord your God to a test.
3rd temptation – All these kingdoms I will give you, if you will bow down and worship me. To which, Jesus answered, Be gone Satan, for it is written: Worship the Lord God and Him only shall your worship.
Another clear example of man being tested is the account of Abraham who was asked by God to offer his son Isaac as a sacrificial offering in Mount Moriah. But Abraham knew God and obeyed Him. He was about to plunge the knife at Isaac when the Lord stopped him and provided a ram for him to sacrifice.
It is interesting to note that the devil knows the scriptures. In fact, demons tremble in fear knowing the power of the scriptures. (James 2: 19) We see this in the account of the two demon-possessed men who met Him, and they shouted, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” (Matthew 8: 28) Another man possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1: 24) “ Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4: 34) “ One day the evil spirit answered them, “ Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” (Acts 19: 15)
In the season of Lent we should be walking in love and not in criticism, condemnation and judgment of others. Note how Satan tempted Jesus. He was questioning the validity of the Lord. “ If you are the Son of God.” More than targeting the “hunger” issue, he was questioning how true Jesus was. In times of our need, God is always with us, even if we do not “feel” His presence. He will not allow us to be overcome by worries and fear. We will be judged by His Word. Are we living it out? Remember that God is with us. This should give us an assurance that Lent is a time of thanksgiving and not sorrow, for God will never fail us.