February 17th, 2010
By Brian Martin Burkholder, EMU Campus Pastor
Read: Luke 4:1-13
What a way to open the Lenten journey – with a scripture passage on the temptation of Jesus. I mean, it’s a troubling passage in some ways. For instance, some wonder if Jesus was truly tempted by the devil – he was “fully human” so temptation must have had some power over him. Of course, Jesus was also fully divine and said to be “full of the Holy Spirit” at the time of this tempting, so it might have been only a matter of the devil doing the tempting, not Jesus really feeling tempted – right?
And what are we to make of scripture being quoted by both Jesus and the devil? Jesus’ being steeped in scripture I understand, but this is God’s Word being used in powerful ways by the devil. Is scripture something to be used and manipulated to gain power over another? I sense more temptation here – but for whom?
There is plenty of temptation in the season of Lent. Perhaps the greatest temptation is to ignore this annual invitation to a season of reflection and soul-searching, meditating on the life of Jesus and examining our own lives to see where we have gotten off the path of a genuine following of Jesus. Could it be the voice of the devil luring us into complacency, apathy, even death of spirit or the poisoned thinking that we have more power and control when we go it alone?
This season of Lent is an opportunity to draw near to God through scripture, reflection and prayer. We can journey together as students, staff and faculty members offer insights, questions, challenges and invitations stimulated by God’s Word. When tempted by the devil, Jesus held firm to the truth of God that transcends personal struggle and dynamics of false power. Let us do the same.