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Blogging Towards Sunday, February 17, 2013

 Luke 4:1-13 | 1st Sunday of Lent

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 Temptation.  We all face it in life.  Not just temptation to horrific things, but to small things too: white “harmless” lies, a second serving, 2 for 1 deals.  What seems problematic and destructive about temptation is the fact that when we are tempted, it’s most often to choose something we wouldn’t, to redefine ourselves, to deny who we know ourselves to be.  That’s what makes it so challenging to grapple with Jesus – the Son of God – being tempted.

 

Today’s lectionary passage is only one of the tellings of this story.  It’s also told in full in Matthew 4:1-11, But although the whole episode isn’t recorded in the other two gospels, it is present in highly abridged form in Mark 1:13 and underneath John 12:27-28.  It’s also a story refered to in Hebrews 2:14-18 and 4:15.  So what is so important about it that it is present across the gospel spectrum?  What is the truth that the story is getting at even though the different gospel authors write about it differently?  What word does it have for us today?

 

 

Theological Themes, Interesting Points & Inter-textual links:

Luke connects the temptation with the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.  This title for Jesus is the most established in Luke’s story-telling.  Gabriel announces to Mary that the baby will be the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35).  Then at his baptism the heavenly voice announces his sonship (Luke 3:22).  And in the genealogy he is both the Son of Adam and the Son of God (Luke 3:38).  The temptation story questions what it means to be called’s God’s son (Luke 4:3 and 9).

 

There are thre e temptations:

  1. The devil suggests to the starving Jesus to make bread from a nearby stone.  It’s a private, harmless act, with merely would provide for Jesus’ hunger, not harm anyone else.  But Jesus responds in verse 4 with a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3.  He harkens back to Moses and the people in the wilderness of the Exodus and the gift of Manna.  Moses explains that manna happens to remind people of who God is. Israel’s need for bread was secondary to their need to understand that God alone gives bread.

 

  1. The devil tempts Jesus with political power.  Who among us hasn’t ever wanted to do something, to wish for great power to fix things?  In the history of Israel though power has repeatedly been the downfall of Israel.  She repeatedly wants to be like her neighbors, the other nations – to worship their gods, to have a king lime them.  Jesus responds to the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 (see also 10:20).  He rejects the power of the devil, insisting upon the truth that the only real power in the universe comes from God.

 

 

  1.  The final temptation is that climax in verse 9-13 on the pinnacle of the Temple, at the highest part of the center of Israel.  This time the devil is sneaker, quoting and using scripture to strengthen his suggestion. He takes Psalm 91 suggesting that if Jesus is the Son of God, then….  For a third straight time Jesus responds with a quotation from the book of Deuteronomy,  chapter 6:16.  This passage recalls a warning of Moses to the Israelites, who repeatedly complain, bicker and test God’s intentions for them in the desert. Moses expounds the people to not continue the grumbling and testing of those that first came through the Exodus into the desert.

 

 

What does it mean that Jesus is the son of God?  Luke answer the question in a negative way, saying what it isn’t.  Jesus understands that God alone is God.  He knows who he is in knowing who God is.  He gets that being God’s son does not mean seeking power for oneself.  Rather it means acknowledging the oneness and otherness of God.

 

Questions for wondering and exploring:

1. What troubles you and/or encourages you in these texts?  Why? How does it contain good news for us?

 

2. How does this text touch you?  How are we tempted to forget who we are and to whom we belong ?

 

 

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About capcoakland

We are a community of faith seeking to live God's will together: that space where the passions of our hearts and the needs of the world meet in our context of Berkeley, Oakland and Piedmont. Our perspective is based from a Christian center, open to the mystery of God's presence in our world. Our core values are celebration, community & prayer. This blog is our avenue for program updates and information.

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This entry was posted on February 15, 2013 by in Worship and tagged .
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