Revised Common Lectionary - Year C: First Sunday in Lent - Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be holy.
The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love. Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (Deuteronomy 26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’(Deuteronomy 26:16-19). There is no privilege without responsibility. Israel was privileged: God was giving them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Israel was responsible: God was saying to them, ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you this day’(Deuteronomy 27:1-3). God blesses us. We obey Him. We enjoy more of His blessing. This leads us to obey Him more. Break the ‘vicious circle’. Get on to God’s ‘victorious circle’: He shows us His love. We love Him. He shows us more of His love. We love Him more… (John 14:21).
Jesus is able to ‘deliver us from the evil one.’
‘Surely He will save you from the traps of the hunter’(Psalm 91:3). God has given us His warning. We must ‘be alert’- ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. He also gives us His promise – ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. How are we to resist the devil? – We are to ‘resist him, standing firm in the faith’(1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). We must not try to resist the devil in our own strength. We will be defeated. He is much more powerful than we are. We must resist him in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have the victory – ‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:57). Satan is out to get us. He’s trying to trap us. Let’s never forget this: Jesus is able to ‘deliver us from the evil one’(Matthew 6:13).
‘Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.’
To ‘Jew and Gentile’, God says, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’(Romans 10:12-13). The Jews had praised the Lord Jesus: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’. Before long, they were shouting, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’(John 12:12-13; 19:6). We rejoice that the Gospel has now come to the Gentiles. We remember also that God still ‘holds out His hands to Israel’(Romans 10:19-21). Still, Christ says, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often would I have gathered your children together…’(Luke 13:34). ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, for the advance of the Gospel among the Jews (Psalm 122:6). Pray also for the ‘voice’ of the Gospel, ‘going out into all the earth’(Romans 10:18). Pray that ‘faith will come as the Word of Christ is heard’(Romans 10:17).
God has given us His Spirit. He calls us to walk in the Spirit.
Jesus was ‘tempted by the devil’(Luke 4:2). He was rejected by His enemies (Luke 4:28-29). When we look around us, we see nothing but temptations and rejection – What a negative way of looking at things! There is something more positive here – the presence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1,14,18). Do not be afraid. There is no need to be discouraged. We need not be defeated. The temptations may be many. The opposition may be fierce. We can ‘pass through the midst of them’(Luke 4:30): ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control’(2 Timothy 1:7). Satan is persistent – They did not rest until they had crucified Him. Faced with such opposition, we – like Jesus – must walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:12,17-18).