“Jesus, abounding of the Holy Spirit, alternate from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in
the wilderness, area for forty canicule he was tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1-2a)
Here we are, aback in the wilderness with Jesus, and all you acclimatized church-goers apperceive what that means. It agency we’ve accomplished the aboriginal Sunday in Lent.
Lent – the division of the abbey year that I feel atomic adequate with. Even the chat ‘Lent’ seems conflicting to me, as absolutely it allegedly should, as it’s a aberration on the chat to ‘lengthen’, advertence that we’ve hit that time of year if the canicule are alpha to lengthen, which they are not – not in this hemisphere of the world, at any rate!
Of course, Lent is not declared to be something we get too adequate with, is it? It’s about accepted as getting that time if we accord things up.
I can never anticipate of giving things up for Lent afterwards canonizing our dearly admired and belated sister, Adroitness Reppion-Brooke, who, even in her backward eighties would actively address herself anniversary Lent to giving up sex for the abounding forty days! Whatever abroad she gave up, baby Adroitness never abandoned her faculty of humour!
In truth, I don’t apperceive how abounding in our association do accord things up for Lent, but if we do, they tend to be about baby things.
I’m not acceptation to trivialise anyone’s Lenten efforts, but I’ve never heard of anybody in fact giving up all forms of aliment for the abounding forty canicule of Lent, which would be the accessible affair to attack if we were absolutely aggravating to archetypal ourselves on Jesus in the wilderness. Instead, those of us who do accord things up tend to accord up accurate forms of food, such as chocolate, or coffee, or even alcohol.
I would not wish to minimise the accomplishment appropriate to accord up any one of those things for the abounding aeon of Lent. Personally, I feel I’m accomplishing appealing able-bodied if I can get through a day afterwards any of them. Even so, to agree Jesus’ forty-day attempt with the devil in the wilderness to a ages afterwards amber is absolutely possibly missing the point.
I doubtable that a lot of of us in Holy Trinity who yield Lent actively amusement it added as a time of quiet reflection, area conceivably we do a moral account of ourselves, and yield time to reflect aloft our weaknesses – those habits and tendencies that we attempt with, that ability be captivation us aback from accomplishing God’s purpose for us.
In alertness for my own Lenten adventure in this regard, I absitively this year to plan through a book by Brene Brown on the accountable of shame.
For those who aren’t accustomed with her work, Brene Brown is allegedly the world’s arch able on shame, and the book I apprehend was based on hundreds of interviews she’d done over seven years of analysis on the subject. Indeed, the book was about eleven hours in length, and it acquainted like a Lenten conduct just to apprehend it.
In the book I read, Brown goes to abundant lengths to analyze abashment from guilt, abasement and embarrassment – anniversary of which she sees as audible phenomena. Brown believes that awkward humans never helps anyone, admitting recognising answerability can, conversely, be actual productive.
The difference, according to Brown, is that experiencing abashment is adage to yourself, ‘I’m hopeless’ – a acceptance that leads abandoned to anguish – admitting recognising answerability is saying, ‘I did something hopeless’, which can calmly be followed by ‘I can do better!’
I begin Brown’s acumen to be helpful, and I anticipation it ability be a acceptable base from which to access our Lenten disciplines. Even so, if I refocused on today’s access – the adventure of Jesus affronted with allurement in the wilderness – this all seemed to be about as accordant as the conduct of giving up chocolate.
In as abundant as the forty canicule of Lent are acutely historically affiliated to this forty- day aeon area Jesus wanders in the wilderness and overcomes the devil, the botheration we acquire if we try to yield acquaint for ourselves from this is that the actuality writers do not present Jesus actuality as our model.
This access is not advised to advise us how to accord with your demons. On the contrary, these wilderness temptations are actual Jesus-specific, and I’m not assertive that they are recorded in adjustment to acquaint us annihilation about ourselves, admitting they do acquaint us something about Jesus, and absolutely possibly something about Israel.
The affiliation with Israel – the celebrated humans of God – is apparent in these stories. Jesus is tempted in the wilderness for forty days. The Israelites struggled through the wilderness for forty years. In both cases, they were periods of testing.
Do not amalgamate your hearts as you did… in the wilderness, area your ancestors activated me;
they approved me, admitting they had apparent what I did. For forty years I was affronted with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a humans whose hearts go astray, and they acquire not accepted my ways.’ (Psalm 95:8-10)
Those forty years in the wilderness were remembered as a time of testing, and there’s no agnosticism that the Actuality biographer expects us to accomplish the affiliation amid Israel’s forty years in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty days. Not abandoned are the two realities affiliated by area and by the amount ‘forty’, but the Old Testament quotes that are accustomed in our Actuality anecdotal are all taken from the book of Deuteronomy – the final book of Moses, arising out of that wilderness wandering.
Indeed, if there is any archetypal in the Actuality adventure as to how we affected temptation, it’s WWMD – ‘what would Moses do?’ The temptations that Jesus encounters are the temptations Moses and his humans encountered, and the Scriptures acclimated by both Jesus and the devil are verses taken from the endure book of Moses.
As I’ve said, Lent is not a division I feel adequate with, and this 40-days-in-the- wilderness adventure is not a anecdotal that I feel adequate with either. Jesus’ allurement adventure is not my story. These struggles are not my struggles. They are Jesus’ struggles and conceivably they are aswell the struggles of the humans of age-old Israel, but what has that got to do with me?
Perhaps, in answering this question, it ability be accessible to accede absolutely what anatomy these temptations took for the age-old humans of God.
Those of us who apperceive our Hebrew Bibles will not acquire too abundant agitation authoritative the affiliation with the aboriginal allurement – the attempt for food.
The aboriginal affair we are told about Jesus’ acquaintance in the arid is that He was athirst – indeed, that afterwards forty canicule afterwards aliment “He was famished” (Luke 4:2). The age-old Israelites struggled with the affair of ache in their wilderness abnormality too. Indeed, in Exodus 16 we apprehend them accusatory to Moses:
“If abandoned the Lord had dead us aback in Egypt… There we sat about pots abounding with meat and ate all the aliment we wanted. But now you acquire brought us into this wilderness to abjure us all to death.” (Exodus 16:3)
The response, you may remember, is that God miraculously provides the humans with blessing from Heaven – some aberrant array of cool aliment that formed on the arena – and if they complained that there was no meat to go with the bread, God beatific them quails that were allegedly actual simple to bolt and accomplish a meal of.
This is the greater ambience of both Jesus’ attempt with ache and of the devil’s aboriginal allurement – that Jesus ability about-face the stones into bread. Jesus’ acknowledgment – that a getting ‘does not reside by aliment alone’ ability not accept to be anon accompanying to the adventure of Israel, the blessing and the quails, but He’s in fact commendation Deuteronomy 8:3:
“He ashamed you, causing you to ache and afresh agriculture you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to advise you that man does not reside on aliment abandoned but on every chat that comes from the aperture of the Lord.”
The allurement Jesus faces actuality is artlessly to assurance that God will provide. Jesus faces this allurement – a analysis that his humans had bootless to canyon – and He deals with it.
The additional allurement Jesus faces involves the demography of ability over the world, and it ability seem, at aboriginal glance, that it’s a abashment Jesus didn’t acquire this devil’s offer. Afterwards all, would not Jesus acquire fabricated the complete adjudicator of the world?
The accident admitting is that Jesus ‘bow down’ to the devil in adjustment to yield power, which is absolutely what politicians consistently accept to do whenever they yield power.
It is remarkable, I think, how abounding politicians with (what accept to be) blue-blooded ethics somehow lose all of those ethics already they yield office. It seems that the actual action of adopting institutional ascendancy destroys the getting who takes it.
We are accustomed with Lord Acton’s adage – that “all ability tends to corrupt, and complete ability corrupts absolutely” – and we apperceive from the Actuality accounts of the activity and admiral of Jesus that He was consistently abstention the expectations of His followers who were consistently cat-and-mouse for him to accomplish a grab for political power.
Jesus says, “my commonwealth is not of this world” (John 18:36). Whatever ability Jesus is traveling to apply is not traveling to crave Him to bow down to the devil in adjustment to get it.
Of course, if we attending at the history of the humans of Israel, we see that they got just as bent up in the political power-struggles of their day as did their neighbours. The history of the humans of age-old Israel is abounding with abandon and bribery and political intrigue, and, accumulated with their abortion to assurance in the accouterment of the Almighty, the final aftereffect could abandoned be afterlife and acquisition and exile.
This is the adventure of the greater Biblical drama. Israel’s animalism for ability and abridgement of assurance in their architect led them into bondage area they waited for God to forward anyone to set things appropriate afresh – anyone who would accomplish area they had failed.
This is the Jesus we see actuality in Luke affiliate four, disturbing with the devil in the wilderness. It’s not Jesus, our archetypal – bold us how to accord with temptation. It’s Jesus, our adumbrative -get things appropriate on account of the humans of God so that we can get the action of the accretion of the apple aback on track.
A quick chat about the final temptation, area Jesus is encouraged to bandy Himself from the acme of the temple, dupe that God will accomplish abiding He doesn’t get hurt. This is such an odd temptation, as it seems to run in absolute action to the aboriginal one.
In the aboriginal temptation, the devil tells Jesus to yield affliction of Himself instead of dupe that God will provide. This time He’s challenged not to yield affliction of Himself but to leave it to God, which aswell seems to be a problem. How do we accomplish faculty of this?
I anticipate there can be a accomplished band amid 18-carat acceptance – that God will accommodate for our needs – and absurd optimism – that whatever we do, God will consistently be there to attending afterwards us. That seems to be the way Jesus interprets this allurement – that He’s getting asked to accept aloft the adroitness of God, audacious aloft His appropriate status.
Jesus’ acknowledgment is afresh from the book of Deuteronomy (6:16), admitting I will not bother archetype the way the Israelites accepted aloft their appropriate cachet as God’s called people, as I’m all too accustomed with the way this operates in the church!
You don’t acquire to be an able in abbey history or even to acquire visited a affair of the Sydney Synod to acquire apparent religious anticipation and airs at work. We accept that we acquire all the answers, and we accede ourselves to be the appropriate humans of God, called to accompany God’s angelic bulletin to the world, and so we accept our positions of moral ascendancy from which we accomplish our proclamations, and we apprehend the blow of the apple to yield us seriously.
In abounding means these abhorrent child-abuse scandals that we, the church, are now getting affected to face up to, are the aftereffect of our presumption. We put the Lord to the test, blithely bold that all would be able-bodied and that we – God’s appropriate humans – would be alluringly protected. We haven’t been.
And so conceivably there is something of a archetypal for us in these temptations of Jesus – not so abundant for us as individuals, disturbing with our addictions to booze and chocolate, but for us as the humans of God in 21st aeon Sydney, disturbing to be accordant and accurate assemblage to the adroitness of God in the cantankerous of Christ.
The temptations Jesus faced were abnormally His, and yet they mirrored the celebrated struggles of the humans of God of old and, in abounding ways, they mirror the struggles we face as the abbey of God in the 21st century.
We wish to accomplish an impact. We wish to change the world. Like the humans of God of old, we wish to see God’s Commonwealth come. Let us yield time this Lent to reflect on the way Jesus did that – the way He inaugurated that Commonwealth – not through political ability and violence, and not through aloof proclamations accustomed from on high, but with abasement and trust, and with a connected alertness to go the way of suffering.