Lent 1C

image: “Christ in the Wilderness” by Ivan Kramskoi (wikimedia)


154: February 14, 2016

314: March 10, 2019

Featured Musician: Koine

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Voice in the Wilderness: MELISSA MYERS

Psalmist: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Luke 4:1-13

Initial Thoughts

  • Lent Begins

Bible Study

  • Wilderness – a time of trial – matches the time of trials – Flood, Israelites in Wilderness, etc.

    • Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit- but not necessarily left there- Is the Spirit with Jesus in the midst of temptation?

    • Similar to Moses and Elijah

    • Wilderness is not only a physical place but a spiritual place - to be tested and transformed. See this article for more on forest/wilderness symbolism in literature. Or The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton:

      • It would perhaps be too much to say that the world needs another movement such as that which drew these men into the deserts of Egypt and Palestine. Ours is certainly a time for solitaries and for hermits. But merely to reproduce the simplicity, austerity and prayer of these primitive souls is not a complete or satisfactory answer. We must transcend them, and transcend all those who, since their time, have gone beyond the limits which they set. We must liberate ourselves, in our own way, from involvement in a world that is plunging to disaster. But our world is different from theirs. Our involvement in it is more complete. Our danger is far more desperate. Our time, perhaps, is shorter than we think.

  • Ancient contest of wit and knowledge (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Hillel, etc)

    • If you are the Son of God then….

    • Jesus proved he is the son of God by responding faithfully as oppose to acquiescing to the devil

    • Devil

      • the opposition, the tempter, the “other”, the adversary or accuser

  • Jesus’ 40 days in wilderness = Israel’s 40 years.

    • Idolatry.

  • Food

    • mimics Israel in the wilderness - demand for Manna, Water, etc

      • Israel is unfaithful- Jesus is faithful

    • Jesus responds - Deuteronomy 8:3

    • Temptation for material items

    • “Give us this day our daily bread” - a gift from God given, not something demanded

  • Power

    • mimics Israel’s desire for a King

    • Deuteronomy 6:13

    • total power corrupts totally

    • Won’t the world be better off with Jesus as the leader? Temptation of ends justifying the means

  • Survival

    • Foreshadows Jesus’ death Psalm 91:11-12- the Devil’s quote

      • knowing scripture and being faithful are 2 different things

    • Jesus responds with Deuteronomy 6:16- referring to when the Israelites questioned of The Lord was in their midst.

      • Despite many warnings to the contrary, the Israelites worship idols and graven images - from the very start of the covenant. Jesus, on the other hand, refuses to worship anyone but God.

      • Idolatry was an incredible temptation to early Christians, who were kept from regular Roman culture - everything before them - if they did not participate in Emperor worship.

  • The devil waits for the opportune time: Luke 22:42 The Garden of Gethsemane (or perhaps into Judas Luke 22:3)

Thoughts and Questions

  • Do we face temptation alone or, perhaps like Jesus even when we are led into the wilderness by the Spirit and face temptation- the Spirit remains with us to guide us.

  • Wouldn’t the world be better off if Jesus was in charge of all the Kingdom of the Earth? Isn’t that the Kingdom of God? If so, then doesn’t the end justify the means? NO- NO - NO

    • The ends do not justify the means, and that reasoning leads us down a dangerous path

  • Jesus makes food to feed the hungry, he does great deeds of power and risks everything even unto death, but when he does these things it is always for the glory of God or neighbor - not for his own glory. When we as individuals or churches do great things - are we doing them for our glory or for God’s glory?

  • Survival seems to be the greatest temptation the church faces today? What are we willing to do or not do in order to survive? Are those action faithful?

Romans 10:8-13

Initial Thoughts

  • This is a difficult passage to interpret because it is a piece pulled out of the middle of a much larger work.

  • Paul is struggling with the apparent unfaithfulness of the Jews.

    • He continues to wrestle with what seems to be a resistible Gospel.

    • “As we know from Paul’s other letters, the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the church was not always an easy one, given differences in culture, values, belief-systems, etc. Nonetheless, Paul insists that the word of the gospel brings both groups into the family of God: Jews by virtue of the covenant, Gentiles by virtue of Christ, all by virtue of God’s promises.” (Audrey West, Working Preacher)

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Romans 10:5-15 (an slightly extended reading, which I think is proper) is the epistle for 19A.

      • This passage begins as an answer to a question that Paul just posed. Namely, “What does faith look like?”

    • Verses 5-7 are important, and very difficult, to understand.

      • Righteousness from the Law is one who “does these things.” That is, follows the Law.

      • Righteousness from faith says:

        • “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’

        • “Don’t ask, ‘Who will go down below?’

          • Comes from Deuteronomy 9:4, and Deuteronomy 30:12

          • 9:4 is about entering the promised Land. You are not getting the Land because of anything great that you did. It’s because I’m God and the people there were wicked.

          • 30:12 is saying that the Law shouldn’t be impossible to follow.

        • 30:14 “The word is very close to you”

        • V. 8b is quoting Deuteronomy 30:14 “the word is very close to you, in your heart and in your mouth.”

  • “The Gospel of the heart and mouth”

    • It is not acts that save.

    • It is not following the Law that saves

    • Heart is internal. Mouth is external.

    • Both Heart and Voice. Believe and Proclaim.

    • V. 10 “Trusting in the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation.”

    • “Paul seems to expect that God’s good news (“the word of faith which we preach”) actually gets inside of people. It is not simply something to be spoken (although, to be sure, it is also a spoken word), but it is a power that changes hearts and lives. Recall that in Paul’s day, the heart is the seat of physical, intellectual and spiritual life, including the will, emotions, and desires, while the mouth gives expression (or denies) what is in the heart. (Compare, for example, Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, “’Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”)” (Audrey West, Working Preacher)

Thoughts and Questions

  • This passage begs the questions: What is salvation? For many, this is simple - it means getting to heaven. Is this really what salvation is? Is Paul talking about a place to go after you die? The Scriptures he quotes are about finding a home in the Land. They are stories of salvation from wandering, from wilderness, and from evil leaders. Righteousness from faith does not ask “Who will go up to heaven?” or “Who will go down below?” And yet, it seems like that is exactly what a lot of Christians care about.

  • Words matter. How we talk about God, how we describe Jesus, how we share the good news matters. How do we proclaim good news of Resurrection? How do we proclaim the good news to those who have not heard? Many have heard A word of Jesus. Few have heard a word that is true. There is much bad news out there, but preacher, “how beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news.”

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Initial Thoughts

  • Stewardship in Lent - why not?

    • Lent is a time to examine priorities. Shouldn’t money be one of those priorities?

    • Not so much about giving something up as it is taking count of what really matters, and setting first things first.

Bible Study

  • Ceremony upon entering the Land.

    • “What is described is, perhaps, to be understood as the first ceremony of harvest on entering the land. No doubt it provided a pattern for future celebrations, for the first part of the harvest was offered to God every year (see Leviticus 23:9-22)” (Common English Study Bible, notes to 26:1-11, p. 305 OT)

    • Interesting placement in lectionary, considering: “the focus here seems to be on the Festival of Weeks in the spring, also known in the New Testament as Pentecost” (John Newsome, Texts for Preaching, Year C, p. 191).

    • Power of ceremony

      • “Deuteronomy knows that when a people forgets its past, it loses both its present and its future.” (John Newsome, p. 190).

      • In order to move into the future, the people are commanded to take another look at the past.

  • Confession

    • My father was a starving Aramean (or wandering).

      • Reference to Jacob (Israel), who was starving before going to Egypt. Once there, his house rose to prominence as an immigrant people.

      • Egyptians then treated them harshly, making them slaves.

    • God showed mercy

      • Delivered from Egypt

      • Brought us to this place - full of milk and honey.

    • Therefore, I am bringing the first fruits of the ground to God.

      • “In the Lord’s provision of a place to live in freedom under the rule of God and with opportunity to enjoy the rich blessings of the land, Israel found its salvation gift from God. No theme so permeates the book as does the word of God’s gift of land and place and provision for life. It is the presupposition of all the instruction” (Patrick Miller, Interpretation: Deuteronomy, p. 179)

    • Johnny Appleseed prayer

The lord is good to me

And so I thank the lord

For giving me the things I need

The sun and rain and an apple seed

Yes, he's been good to me

I owe the lord so much

For everything I see

I'm certain if it weren't for him

There'd be no apples on this limb

He's been good to me

(Disney short film from 1948, directed by Wilfred Jackson).

  • Justice

    • Includes the Levites - a people with no land; and the immigrants among you.

    • Offering is a chance for distribution of wealth. The offering comes from God’s bounty, and is distributed to those who have nothing.

    • The offering of first fruits, whether at the temple in Jerusalem as in this passage or locally in the outlying towns every third year as a tithe (26:12-15; cf., 14:28-29), ensures that the entire community shares in the land’s abundance.” (Esther Menn, Working Preacher)

Thoughts and Questions

  • Offering and Confession  Offering itself is an act of confession. It is an act of affirming that all that belongs to us is rooted in God’s creation. The confession about more than seeking forgiveness of sin. It is a confession that God has been in all things. We confess that we have wandered, and that the wandering is, at least in part, due to our own misguided attempts at control. We confess our role in the wandering even as we give thanks for the current place of plenty. Giving thanks, and offering the first fruit of our labor is an acknowledgment that we do not labor alone.

  • Offering and the Past. Looking to the past is not an effort to cling to the glory days. The past here consists of an honest look at where the people came from. It acknowledges their place as wanderers and slaves, juxtaposed with the present situation of being fixed in a land of plenty. Looking to the past is an act of hope for the future. How many churches today are weighed down by the stories of the past? Like the people who have now finished wandering, the Church does not look like it did forty years ago. This is a good thing. Taking an honest look at the trials we have overcome gives us strength to face the future trials with God’s grace.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.