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Luke 4:1-13 | 1st Sunday of Lent
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:
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 ?