First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4:1
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

            Temptation, a frustrating reality of our lives. Temptation to reject the things of God, and to be absorbed by the things of this world. Jesus told us to ask that our Heavenly Father not lead us into temptation and deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:10), yet still we fall time and again. We are tempted to pleasure, to possess, and to pride; to be controlled by our belly, guided by wealth, and to try and take God’s place as judge. Eve and Adam were tempted, they fell to these temptations into sin and as James writes (1:15), sin full grown is death. This is the Fall as we have heard today, refusing to listen to God and so falling to every temptation.

            And this is what you and I do too. This is our inheritance from our first parents, ‘sin … through one man and death through sin’ (Romans 5:12).  [And to be honest, I don’t want it, but nobody’s contesting the will.] And so from Adam on we have lived in condemnation and sin, suffering temptation everyday and often falling to it. But this is not the end. God hasn’t cut us off because we refused to care, He loves you more than you can imagine. He does not give up. So He sent His Son to take on our humanity and deal with our corruption. Jesus was born into our world, part of our family, on His mother’s side. He too suffered these temptations, the devil himself came again to try and entice Him away from God’s Word, but Jesus, with the Spirit, is always listening to His Father. Every temptation that came to Him, He had God’s Word at the ready. Always listening to our Heavenly Father, never listening to desire, this world, or the devil. He knows what it is to be tempted, He knows what you and I go through. He can relate, but He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

            He lived the perfect life, listening to God and living it out. He died for you and me, then wonderfully He rose to new and glorious life without temptation and sin. By this man Jesus you have life. You had inherited sin and death from Adam, but now you receive righteousness and life everlasting in Jesus. Yes, we still suffer temptation this side of eternity, and in Christ’s salvation we can with the Spirit’s help refuse to fall, but even when you do, turn back and listen to what God has said to you. Forgiven, loved, saved, and those same words He spoke to Jesus at His baptism, ‘you are my beloved child’ (Matthew 3:17). No one can take this away from you, so don’t give up, with the Holy Spirit’s help persevere under temptation and listen to God.

            And until Christ’s return, the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev Joseph Graham.