Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel passage from Luke 4 describes Jesus’ temptation by the devil. We see three basic areas of temptation. In verse three, routine physical sustenance - bread. In verse six, recognition and glory. In verses nine and following, protection from deadly harm. All of these areas of temptation are common to humanity. We want to eat, we want to be accepted and honored, and we want to be protected from violent harm. There’s nothing wrong with those desires. In fact, when someone doesn’t make reasonable efforts at any of them, that person is considered to have some sort of disorder. It’s not normal to try to starve oneself, to seek to be an outcast, or to live in such a way as to provoke harm.
Jesus answers each of the temptations with God’s Word and promises. Why is this? The simple answer is that Satan’s promises will not be kept but God’s promises will.
Does God provide what we need to eat? Yes, he does it through our work and the work of many others. In normal circumstances, the vast majority of people on this planet can secure adequate food supplies, particularly when they are not interrupted by wars or corruption. This is a gift of God. Oftentimes we have seen starvation ensue after others have arisen to take the place of God. The physical provisions promised by the corrupt government are not reliable. Neither are the provisions offered by the devil. We need to trust the God who keeps his promises.
Does God provide society in which we can give and receive appropriate honor, care, affection, and respect? Yes. Even in some secular societies we find such a thing. But in the Scripture we have a description of a Christian community in which people of greatly different backgrounds, of different social standings, of different ages, of different sexes are all able to come together in unity, receiving from God in Word and Sacrament. That’s a community of care. Almost without exception, the people I have met who feel abandoned and neglected are being abandoned and neglected by people and organizations which do not build their care for others on Scripture. Sadly, some of those people and organizations take the name “Christian.” But they have fallen short of Scripture in this. They have taken the enemy’s promises rather than God’s promises.
Does God protect us from death? He says that believing on him is eternal life. End of story. He is the one who can keep his promises. If in this life only we have hope, we are of all to be pitied. May the God who keeps all his promises bless you now and forever.
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