In Luke 4:1-14, Jesus faces temptation in the wilderness following his baptism, in which "the accuser" seeks to dissuade him from his call, promising food, powers, and kingdoms to rule. It is a radically honest conversation with himself, and the voices that are not from God.
Our 40-day journey through Lent will invite you into the radically honest conversation with self, temptation, and God, whereby we meet ourselves as we are, and subsequently welcome God's refining power to transform our temptations into strength.
Lent 1 | Week of March 10
read | Luke 4:1-4
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"
reflect | "One does not live by bread alone"
Being hungry is essential to survival. Our hunger pangs remind us that food is our energy source, even our life source, should we not have it. And so, our Creator God provides daily sustenance, enough of what is good, that we might live well.
And yet, food and eating are more complicated than that. We live in relationship to our food, and it is a difficult relationship indeed. Our desires are greater than our needs. We often eat for entertainment, comfort, or perhaps self-defeat. We eat beyond our body’s need, or less than our body’s need, forgetting food’s source and purpose, that God is perfect providence, supplying us with abundant life.
Creator God, keep us mindful of what we put in our mouth, so that we might walk with you faithfully in our eating. Give us the self-control needed to eat well, giving thanks for the earth and all that you have made, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lent 2 | Week of March 17
read | Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
reflect | On Wealth and Possessions
How much is enough? The question we might ask of God is not how much should I give, but rather, how much may I justifiably keep? Money has the power to strike fear in us, igniting scarcity thinking, and driving us further into the abyss of accumulation, leading us into the false belief that contentment is somewhere at the bottom.
Lent 3 | Week of March 24
read | Luke 4:5-8
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered him, "It is written,
'Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.'"
reflect | Worship Only God
There are competing voices in our heads, drawing us from God into valleys of self-deceit, self-loathing, and deep untruth about who we are. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were torn open, and God came down in the form of a dove, and the voice from heaven was heard to say, “This is my child, dearly loved, with whom I am well-pleased.”
This is the one and only voice you need listen to. All the other voices, gathered along life’s way, telling us that we are not enough, that we are no good, that we are not worthy, are the false voices of the tempter, stripping us of our God-given beauty, and leading us into oblivion.
And so, as you listen in this season of Lent, hear our God speaking delight into you, leading you away from death into life!
Dear Jesus, give us power to renounce the voices that are not yours. Turn us again to you, that we might hear your love and grace from the cross, your claim upon our lives, and your promise of life with you. We rise up and praise you for your gracious love. Amen.
Lent 4 | Week of March 31
read | Luke 4:9-13
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
'He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you,'
'On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
reflect | Power for Others
We are empowered not for our own glory, but for the purpose of empowering others. God has gifted us with strength, so that we might lift up the lowly, bring release to the captives, set free the oppressed, not to the gain our position, status, nor prestige, but to glorify our God in Jesus Christ.
Lent 5 | Week of April 7
read | Luke 4:14
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
reflect | Power of the Spirit
As week seek the spiritual gifts of faithfulness and self-control, we are given what is needed from the Spirit. Facing down our fears, we learn that God meets us in the wilderness to supply our every need.
Poet Ranier Rilke once said, “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we will love in the face of fear. Everything terrible is something that needs our love, and at the foot of the cross, all fear is wrenched away. Renounce that which keeps you from God, and stand up to the tempter in the power of the Holy Spirit. You are God’s child; forgiven, loved, and free!
What wondrous love is this, O God, that you would come down and live among us, that you would meet our suffering and fear with redemptive love. We humbly offer our lives to you, empowered by your Holy Spirit, to offer love where terrible life is found, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.