(Common Lectionary Teaching notes for Lent 2, Year C, 2013 by Rev. John Gishler)
The Readings (Deut. 26.1-11; Ps. 91; Rom. 10.8b-13 and Luke 4.1-13) are chosen to help us in self-examination during Lent as we prepare our hearts, not us our minds, for Easter. What we are looking at is things we do or fail to do that tend to separate us from a deep love relationship with God.
· How we spend our leisure time is an indication of our priorities
· How we spend our money is an indication of our values
· How we treat other people shows what is going on in our hearts
· The challenge is that our minds deceive us – we can always think up a way to justify our questionable actions
· Even more scary is the fact that our minds have a built in self-defence mechanism that can lead to self-deception
· Good News is that the Holy Spirit will guide us in self-examination and help us overcome our blindness!
· In what ways am I distracted by Materialism?
Jesus was trying to overcome His desire for food so Satan tempted Him to use His powers to turn a stone into bread. Jesus had to make a choice. If He did turn the stone into bread He would satisfy His hunger (temporarily) – but loose His human identity and be unable to die for the sins of humans. This was a really serious temptation. It could have ended the ministry of Jesus before it even began. Jesus models self-discipline by quoting Deut. 8.3 where Moses explains the reason for the manna in the desert “...to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes out of the mouth of the Lord.” The teaching on bread of course is not just about food – bread is the symbol for everything material that humans crave for physical and emotional comfort. It is not surprising that we live in a time when many people do not attend church and are seriously overweight.
· In what ways am I distracted by my need for power and control?
Jesus was offered power and control over all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship Satan. This was probably the ultimate loyalty test. We are all tempted by fears and insecurities that tempt us to try and gain power and control over our lives. This striving for power and control is what separates us from God and from each other – we are serving self, not God. Jesus realizes that this is contrary to loyalty to God and again quotes Scripture - Deut. 6.13 “Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only..” Our relationship to God involves exclusive loyalty and dependence. We are servants.
· In what ways am I distracted by my need for spiritual authority?
Stepping of the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem would lead to recognition as Messiah and avoiding crucifixion. But it would also, as in all temptations, prevent Jesus from reaching His destiny.
We all need to examine our lives for emotional and spiritual desires that distract us from our relationship with Jesus.
· Romans 10.8 reminds us “the Word is near you” – in the heart
· Are saved if we believe in our hearts that Jesus rose from the dead
· Faith in Jesus death for us ‘justifies us - makes us spiritually whole
· If we are spiritually whole, the Holy Spirit can come and live in us
· Holy Spirit will guide us in self-examination to highlight where we have been distracted and prepare for Confession