First Sunday in Lent (Mar 5th)

Pastor's Summary of Matthew 4:1-11

In Mark, only the essential historical facts are recorded: those in vv. 1,2 and 11c. The disciples probably knew none of the details of Jesus' trials, for temptation is essentially a personal inner battle with one's conscience. "Forty days" (v. 2) reminds us of Moses and Elijah, both of whom also fasted for forty days as they prepared for their roles as God's agents to Israel-as does Jesus. All three of the temptations the Devil ("the temper", v. 3, "Satan", v. 10) presents to Jesus are ways of sinning against the great commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,...soul, and...might". The "heart" was the seat of will, of moral choice, "soul" means life; "might" means possessions. (All Jesus' answers are from Deuteronomy 6-8.) To change "stones" (v. 3) into bread would be to use his power for his personal benefit. Jesus says that the "word" (v. 4) of God is the chief nourishment. The "holy city" (v. 5) is Jerusalem; a "pinnacle" probably overlooked the temple courts and the deep Kidron Valley. Jesus answers: testing God's protection by unnecessarily risking life is a mockery of real martyrdom-and of his sacrifice to come (v. 7). The Devil, evil forces personified, invites Jesus to prefer personal wealth and power over love of God (vv. 8-9). Jesus answers: God is the only god to be worshipped and served (v. 10). The details make the point that Jesus is the perfect lover of God, the ideal Israelite, the founder of a new way of being human.