Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 21, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said 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 guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Reflection on the gospel reading: On this first Sunday of Lent, the Church reminds us that if we are tempted, Christ was tempted before us. Throughout the New Testament, in all four of the gospels and in various epistles, we learn that it was a strong and consistent tradition in the early Church that Jesus faced tests during his ministry.

The tests we read about today go to the heart of what it means for Jesus to be messiah. The devil presents to Jesus a vision of messiah very similar to the vision of messiah that Israel, in Jesus’ troubled day, held in its heart. They are tests toward the use of power to change creation for Jesus’ own pleasure, set up an earthly dominion to control human beings through political and military might, and force God’s protection of Jesus.

In the end, though, Jesus did not change stones into bread to feed himself but instead fed the multitudes with bread. He did not set up an earthly kingdom but trusted God to use his example of service to build up a heavenly kingdom. He did not succumb to the temptation to put his life on the line to see if God would save him but remained obedient unto death, yes, death on cross.

In the end, Jesus rejected each of act of violence that the devil sat before him to embrace for himself the path of peace and devise a messianism that Israel never had imagined.

Spiritual reading: Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. (Soren Kierkegaard)

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