Readings for 1st Sunday in Lent, 2/25/07:
Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13
- In this passage, the Israelites are reminded to keep sight on where they've come from, even as they now enter into this promised land that they've been longing for for such a time. They might want to forget their troubled past, their years of wandering, and their time of slavery, but God commands them not to forget, but to remember, to remember clearly, to remember with ritual, to remember with thanks, to remember in celebration.
- Telling of History, Telling of the Story. Such important elements to our Christian life. What if we only got the part of the story where the Israelites were already in the promised land? Or just the Resurrection, without the teachings and Crucifixion before hand?
- What is in your past that you want to forget, now that you're in a better place? What benefits are there to remembering, even celebrating where you have come from?
- "For he will command his angels concerning you" - This psalm is the one referenced by the devil in the Luke text of Jesus' temptation.
- Compare how this verse is used in the Psalm verses how the devil uses it in interacting with Jesus. The same? Different?
- Emphasis on "knowing the name" of God, similar to Romans reading. What does it mean to know God's name? Who knows God's name? Both followers and detractors? "I will protect those who know my name." Then are we all included in that, or does know imply a deeper connection than a literal interpretation?
- "Confess with your lips", "believe in your heart" "you will be saved." This is an interesting passage, certainly one that supports the doctrine of sola fide, the idea that we are saved by faith alone (without works required.) It makes it sounds so simplistic - all we need to do to be 'saved' (read in Greek as: safety/health/safe) is say that Jesus is Lord. Simple, right? "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Is there depth in that faith? Indeed, this belief seems to be frequently uttered in more conservative denominations/non-denominational churches - a great emphasis on declaring Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- HOWEVER, the rest of Paul's writings lead me to believe that Paul would not have advocated some 'magic words' we can say that bring us God's salvation. Paul knew better than that, and if that's all we hear in this passage, we've missed some important verses at the end. "For there is NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN JEW AND GREEK; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him." I think actually Paul is insisting here that believers don't need to be part of the Jewish faith or complete Jewish rituals to be part of the plan of salvation - they just need to connect with Christ, find belief in Christ. This passage speaks of the open and inclusive nature of salvation. Indeed, GOOD NEWS!
- Jesus is tempted by the devil. It's easy to get caught up in an argument about who the devil is, if the devil exists, if the devil is a being, etc. But i think if we get stuck in that argument, we miss the actual point of the story. Point is, Jesus went through a time of testing and tempting and trial before he began his ministry. Point is, Jesus could have chosen many paths of action that would have left him better off, but instead he chose God's path. Point is, Jesus, a human, faced the same tough decisions we face, and remained faithful - so, so can we.
- Jesus is tempted in three ways: in the first, he resisted using his powers to meet his own needs. In the second, he resists using his power to be a dynamic leader of the type that seeks fame and glory. In the third, he resists putting God to the test, demanding of God to meet his needs.
- I can't help thinking the tests the various characters face in The Lord of the Rings from the One Ring in the J.R.R. Tolkien works. They have to resist a twisted temptation that they could do good through the evil power, that they could wield the evil for good purposes, etc.
- It's interesting - the devil tempts Christ in the end by using the scripture from Psalms. He takes the words of the Holy Book and twists them into a wrong meaning. It's not just bad theology when we do the same things with "proof-texting" and other abuses of God's Holy Word - it's actually evil when we use the word in this way!