Reflections for the Week of Sunday, February 14, 2016 First in Lent

Scriptures: Deuteronomy 26.1-11; Psalm 91 1,2,9-16; Romans 10.8b-13; Luke 4.1-13.

Dt 26 tells of the Israelites in the Promised Land and their first thank offering to YHWH. In Ps 91 the LORD promises to bless and protect His people. Rm 10 says those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in the resurrection and call on Him will be saved. Lk 4 tells of the temptations of Jesus by Satan.


Wednesday February 14 is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of forty days of Lent, a period of reflection and repentance in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. The Lord through Moses has led Israel out of bondage in Egypt as He promised Abraham He would. In Ps 91 God commits Himself again to His covenant with His people. They have arrived in Canaan, the Promised Land. Rm 10 says we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ which is a gift from God. In Lk 4 Jesus has been led by the Spirit into the wilderness after His baptism by John and fasts for forty days. He is surrounded by wild beasts and is tempted by Satan. We are reminded of Adam who succumbed to temptation though he was in Paradise. The first temptation is to assuage His hunger by turning stones into bread. This is a temptation based on a need for security and survival. Jesus responds with Scripture that man should live on the word of God (Dt 8.3). The second temptation was to worship Satan in order to rule the world. This is a temptation to power and control, but Jesus quoted Dt 6.13 that we should only worship God. The third temptation was to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple to prove God’s protective care for Him (Ps 91) and to establish fame and esteem for Himself. Jesus’ response was that we should not put the Lord to the test (Dt 6.16). These temptations–to survival and security, to affection and esteem, and power and control are basic needs of everyone and lead us as children before we have developed a relationship with God to construct emotional programs for happiness that are bound to fail. They influence us all our lives and form a ‘false self’ with self-centered goals that dwell in the unconscious and deceive us throughout life. Paul refers to these needs as comprising the ‘old man’ who represents Adam and our fallen nature. This is the human condition. When we seek God and are blessed by a relationship with Him through the gift of faith, He dwells in us and forms a ‘true self’ that leads to true fulfillment. Only God can truly fulfill our needs for security, affection, and power, and only through faith can we be aware of this. Jesus overcame the temptations, unlike Adam, and will give us the power to understand and to live according to His direction. The afflictive emotions of daily life–anger, fear, guilt, shame, etc.–direct us to the effects of our false self and our need to repent and turn from the quest for happiness based on our false self to the Spirit-led life in Christ, our true Self or the ‘new man’. This is what the penitential season of Lent calls us to do–to reflect on our lives and what motivates us: our false self based on self-centeredness, or out true Self based on Jesus and the Spirit. To repent is to turn from our old way of life to the way to which Jesus is calling us. Our Adamic nature calls us one way; Jesus dwelling in the heart of believers calls us to follow Him and die to self.

Memory Verse: That you put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4.22-4).

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