This Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent (Purple Sunday), we are confronted with the gospel text from Luke 4 telling us of Jesus’ spiritual journey of fasting and reflection as He faced serious temptations in the wilderness for 40 days. Hebrews 4:14 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.” Perhaps the Hebrew writer had Jesus’ spiritual journey in mind when he wrote that passage. Regardless, the point is that because Jesus faced the same temptations we all face, Jesus can and will help us to overcome our temptations. This is made clear in I Corinthians 10:13 when Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful; God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
When I read these passages, I don’t see a mean angry God that’s out to get me. Rather, I see a very loving God that wants what’s best for me and willing to do whatever is necessary to help me! I see a God that knows how frail my human self is and how easily I’m tempted by things not good for me. So this God, while walking among humanity in the flesh of Jesus, went through the same temptations I’m tempted with and demonstrated they can be overcome. The really good news is that this God is willing to provide me with the help I need to overcome my temptations that are not good for me.
Now let’s be clear: Jesus never gave in to temptation but I’m not Jesus and neither are you. We all have temptations that not good for us and to which we are particularly vulnerable and susceptible. So one of the values of this Season of Lent is taking a spiritual journey deepening our faith so that we can have the tools needed to help us face and overcome our temptations. Each day of our Lenten journey, and life itself, is another opportunity to do so. Some unknown person said, “Remember, life is a test. If you woke up alive this morning, then you got an “A” for yesterday. You made it through.” I think that is what a loving God is trying to get across to us as well.
I think the key to a spiritually enriching and meaningful Lenten Journey begins with knowing without a doubt that God is NOT out to get you! It is also knowing that this loving God is definitely on your side. And God has made that really easy for us to know; even if it has been often hidden by the manner in which it has been presented from pulpits. The fact is, we don’t have to jump through all kinds hoops, we simply have to believe it. So the Epistle text for this Sunday from Romans 10 tells us: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.”
So I invite you to wear something purple and join us in worship this First Sunday in Lent (Purple Sunday) at Covenant. I will be preaching about on how God has made the assurance of our faith as easy and near as being “On Your Lips And In Your Heart!” The scripture text for this sermon is “Romans 10:8b-13” and “Luke 4:1-13.”