First Sunday in Lent

 Matthew 4:1-11 

               I’m no scholar but when I read the first passage; “Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came….” I saw something I never understood before, from the way this reads, Jesus was intentionally led out into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Of course Jesus had to empty Himself and become weak before the devil would even attempt to tempt Him.  But in the Lord’s Prayer it says: “and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”.  Since Jesus was God made flesh, did He have to become weak before experiencing the temptation we experience so readily?

              I saw 3 major temptations:  The first we struggle with a lot now-a-days, is what I refer to as the “comfort or pleasure” temptation.  We are not starving for food; there are plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains, yet a paczki (a deep fried, powdered sugar covered and jelly-filled pastry, served in Midwest Ohio on fat Tuesday) will win out almost every time.  When one abuses the use of alcohol, drugs, or sex, it falls in this category as well.  None of these things are sinful in themselves, only when they’re over used, or used outside the context they were intended for (example drugs for medical purposes) does it become harmful.  Pleasure sins are sins against one’s own body.  Humans should not seek comfort alone in the pleasures of this world, but seek comfort in the loving Word of God!

               The second temptation is that of “pride”.  “I am a big deal so ordinary rules don’t apply because someone will save my butt!  We see this a lot today from people like Bernie Madoff, and star celebrities like Paris Hilton.  Even in ordinary circles, when one claims to be Christian, yet says they have solid reasons for cohabitating without the Sacrament of marriage, as if they have some kind of “God pass”, has succumbed to pride.  It’s like saying; “I can make my own decisions God’s law is old fashion and just doesn’t apply to my case”.  If one does get a “God pass” (it’s rare, but it can happen in circumstances that are oppressive and beyond the individual’s control), usually these individuals are quiet about it, not out of shame for their circumstances, but to humbly avoid the appearance of scandal.  They genuinely want to follow God’s law, but human injustice or something beyond their control, prevents their ability to comply.  Plus these individuals would never call it a “God pass” (those are my words) because they continue to seek an opportunity to comply with God’s Word.  When people who think they can defy natural law, and fall off a cliff, they truly don’t understand how that could have happened.  If they didn’t have such pitiful looks of astonishment at why no one is saving their butt (like Paris Hilton), it would be comical!   Do not put God’s natural laws to the test!

               Finally the third temptation is what can be termed the “Savior complex” – I am so indispensable because I have all the answers!  No one can do it as well as me!  I will save the world.  It could be said that there’s not many Hilter’s or Hossein’s left that want to own the world, but if you look at this on a smaller scale like career politicians who are only suppose to serve so many years, then return to their life, there are many that have fallen into the trap of money, power or prestige, that just can’t go back to ordinary life.  Many times they are pumped up by their constituents into believing they can’t leave political office because of all the good they’ve done.  It may indeed be true that they’ve done great things, but they should never buy into there’s no one that can replace them.  God is the only true Leader, and He can lead through anyone who is humble, listens, and leads through serving.

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