Summary: A sermon for the First Sunday in Lent Jesus temptation in the wilderness
First Sunday in Lent
9* In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10* And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
11* and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”
12* The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
13* And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.
14* Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15* and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Grace amd Peace to you from our Lord and SAviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
Our lesson from Mark is the familiar story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Mark leaves out many of the details which Luke and Matthew have in their gospels. But then it gives us a chance to dwell on the key concept of this story.
The idea that Jesus was tempted. "To tempt" means to try and convince someone to do something. Or I think in this case with Jesus’ temptation, God was wanting to see if Jesus would do what was required of him. I believe that this is God’s purpose in times of testing. At the same time, Satan has his own purpose -- to turn Jesus away from God.
We need to look at this story in the context of Jesus’ life. Jesus had been Baptized by John. He had come out of the water and immediately the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness.
Can you sense the major change in the emotion of the story? Jesus was living in the ecstasy of the Baptism and then immediately he was in the wilderness experiencing the brokenness of this world. In Mark’s gospel, we do not have the three acts of temptation that we find in the other gospels. All we know is that Jesus was tempted, period. And I think that is enough for us to know.
The question that begs to be asked and answered is why was Jesus tempted? Why as the Son of God did he have to go through this?
Jesus, I think, was not so much tempted by the devil, but by the situation itself to see if he would follow His Father in heaven.
Lent is the time when we follow this journey of Jesus to the cross. We follow, as he is tempted, as the Devil tries to convince Jesus to steer away from this course of undeserved suffering and death. We see Jesus come through this period of temptation with His faith renewed. Along the way, we see Jesus set his face, and we see those who would minister to him as he faces the cross of Calvary.
Jesus knew he should follow the path set for Him by His Father. And in that wilderness experience, he was able to show himself and his father that He could follow that path.
And that brings us to another question? Does God tempt us? Does God put in our path temptations to see if we will follow Him?
The answer to that question, for me at least, is no. God does not tempt us individually, but he allows the sinfulness of this world to tempt us.
For God has given us through Jesus two commandments to follow as it ways in Mark 12:28
28 ¶ And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
29 Jesus answered, "The first is, ’Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one;
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
31 The second is this, ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Our commandments are in a sense easier than what Jesus was told to do by God. We are to love God and love our neighbor. But we find that to be very difficult in this world of brokenness.
We are tempted not by God to break these commandment, but by the devil, the brokenness of this world.
A story about the devil says:
"The Evil Spirit once came dejected before God and wailed, "Almighty God -- I want you to know that I am bored -- bored to tears! I go around doing nothing all day long. There isn’t a stitch of work for me to do!"