Year A – Palm Sunday – Matthew 21:1-13

Matthew 21:1–13 – When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”

Summary – This passage provides the climax of Christ’s journey toward Jerusalem. He has “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51, Matt. 16:21, 20:17; cf Is. 50). When He arrives in Jerusalem He goes to the temple. Jesus’s “triumphal entry” culminates in the “cleansing” the temple. To understand this, we must see how Jesus reenacts Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 7:12, 26:6; 1 Sam. 4:15-22; Ps. 78:60). Jesus replays Jeremiah’s experience with the destruction of Shiloh (tabernacle) and Solomon’s temple (586 BC) at the time of the exile. This all fulfills the pattern of cleansing a leprous/unclean House (Lev. 14:33-47; cf. John 2:13). Jesus symbolically tears down the house as a prophetic action foreshadowing the actual destruction of the temple (70 A.D. Matt. 24:1ff).

Insight – In the middle of the game how do you know who will be the winner? The one who “triumphs” may not be clear until the game is over. This is the case with Jesus entering into Jerusalem. At the climax of Matthew we find Jesus entering finally into Jerusalem to fulfill a prophecy by Zechariah. A closer look at this prophecy reveals a promise showing how God will accomplish His purposes:

Zechariah 9:8–11 – But I will camp around My house because of an army, Because of him who passes by and returns; And no oppressor will pass over them anymore, For now I have seen with My eyes. 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.

So is Jesus climactic entrance really a “triumphal entry”? It is not an immediate triumph. Rather, it was a defeat of the Son of Man. He was seized, interrogated, beaten, tortured and finally, mercilessly put to death in the cruelest way. But  . . . because of this “defeat,” planned before the foundation of the world, the greatest triumph was possible. As Matthew hints, the true son of David will have dominion from sea to sea because of the blood of his new covenant. Jesus, though He appeared to all the world as a defeated crucified failure — a loser — by this death, brought in the judicial and official basis of the very victory of God. Jesus does triumph, but through the cross.

Child’s Catechism – How did Jesus triumph? Through His death on the cross.

Discussion – How do believers ultimately “win” their triumph? Is it similar or different to Christ’s triumph?

Prayer – Almighty Lord, we give your praise for the triumph of Jesus through the crown of thorns and the cross of Calvary. Grant that we may follow Him by giving of ourselves in service, obedience, and love in order that we may be found in His righteousness through faith. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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Year A – Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50:4-9a

Isaiah 50:4-9a: The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Summary – Isaiah explains how God sustains him through the Word. Like a teacher, Isaiah is able to share this Word to help others. Each day Isaiah hears God’s voice. The next verses provide a Messianic image, fulfilled in the trial of Jesus: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” Yet this Messiah is determined and will be vindicated since the Lord is with Him. One can hear echoes of Paul in 1 Cor. 1 and Romans 8: 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Romans 8:33 – “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” This passage concludes with the picture that the enemies of Messiah will all pass away.

Insight – Have you ever looked carefully at a nice woven rug or a tapestry? There are usually recurring patterns. The Bible is full of patterns, too. This passage provides us with a pattern that is deeply woven into the experience of God’s people. Isaiah begins by receiving the Word from the Lord, then giving it to others. In so doing, Isaiah moves to reflect upon his own suffering for the sake of that Word. As he explains this, he moves into Messianic territory, prophesying the very events of Christ’s life. These events took place  in Christ’s trial and crucifixion. The pattern seems to be: 1) Receiving the Word. 2) Suffering because of the Word. And 3) Identification with Messiah. The apostles experienced a similar pattern. As they went out proclaiming the good news, they were often rejected and suffered (e.g., Acts 16 in Philippi), but as a result they knew more of Christ. One important application is that we grow in receiving God’s Word. That is, we should increase our intake of Scripture and listen for His voice as we do so. Then we will perhaps be able to harvest the fruit of that Word as we speak with  others. But remember that as you do so, you will likely experience some kind of persecution. Still, the result is a deeper experience of identifying with the One who was struck, beaten, spit upon, and finally crucified for you.

Child’s Catechism – How should we grow? By hearing more of God’s Word and sharing it with others.

Discussion – What are some ways that you could to know and grow in the Word even more?

Prayer – God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people.In this time of repentance, draw all people to yourself, that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Year A – Epiphany 7 – Psalm 119:33-40

Psalms 119:33–40 –  Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. 38 Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you. 39 Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good. 40 See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.

Summary – Many students of the Bible know that Psalm 119, like a few other Psalms, is set as an acrostic. So the first 8 verses begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph), then the next 8 verses begin with the second letter (beth), etc. In order to capture this, below is a paraphrase of these verses, using the English alphabet (now we are up to the letter E) as a reference point:

Educate me, O Lord, in the way of Thy statutes, And I shall observe it to the end.
Enlighten my understanding, that I may observe Thy law, And keep it with all my heart.
Eagerly cause me to walk in the path of Thy commandments, For I delight in it.
Encourage my heart with Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.
Extinguish my desire to gaze at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways.
Establish Thy word to Thy servant, As that which produces reverence for Thee.
Exonerate me from dreaded reproach, For Thine ordinances are good.
Even now, I long for Thy precepts; Revive me through Thy righteousness.

Discussion – Why does this Psalm move through the alphabet? Why does it go from “A to Z”?

Prayer – †Collect for Seven Sunday after Epiphany – O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing; Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts your greatest gift, which is love, the true bond of peace and of all virtue, without which whoever lives is accounted dead before you. Grant this for the sake of your only Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

Year A – Christmas Day – John 1:1-14

christmas

John 1:1–14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Overview –  The Gospel of St. John is both the simplest and most profound book in Holy Scripture. No scholarship is needed to receive it’s truth and yet no scholar has seen through it’s profound matrix of depth. With the most basic language (in the original Greek) it conveys the richest portrait of Christ that could be imagined. Like no other Text, John presents Jesus in profound glory, such as with the “I AM” statements (“I am the resurrection and the life”). And the structure is grand and powerful. The Gospel is framed with seven signs and then Sign-Maker is raised on the eighth day as the Maker of a new creation. These signs outline Water, Bread and Wine. Each of these manifest more fully The Word made flesh.

1. New Creator: Water into wine (2:1-11)
2. Redeemer/Healer: The official/nobleman’s son (4:46ff)
3.  True Sabbath: The paralyzed man at the pool (5:2-9)
4. Bread of Life: Multiplication of loaves (6:1-14)
5. Light of the World: The man born blind (9:1-7)
6. Resurrection & Life: The raising of Lazarus (11:1-44)
7. Living Water: The cross (19:1-37)
Eighth Day: New Adam/Gardener: The resurrection (20:1-29)

Insight – There is magnificent beauty in the simplicity of John’s prologue (vv 1:1-14). The summit of that beauty is in our text, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” It is deeply ironic that Creator Jesus was not recognized by His handiwork, even more so that even Israel (the special “son of God”) did not receive him. Yet the note of hope at the end of the sadness brings redemptive glory. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God. . .” This Word and Reason of God has become flesh. This the reason for our Christmas celebration.

Prayer – Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP Nativity III)

Year A – Christmas Day – Hebrews 1:1-4

Hebrews 1:1–4 -Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Overview – God is not silent. He speaks to His people. In the Garden He walked with Adam and Eve. After the Fall, God spoke through signs, wonders, stories, and prophets. From a burning bush to a man robed in camel’s hair, God continued to speak. From a donkey to educated men to a shepherd and a fruit-picker, we learn that God does not leave His people alone. Standing on the shoulders of these men, John the Baptist linked their words to Jesus. He prepared the way of the Lord by calling Israel to “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” Jesus, he declared, was the mighty victor—one so mighty that John felt unworthy to even untie His shoes. Now the writer of Hebrews tells us that God still speaks. To that of the prophets God adds the voice of his Son. Jesus repeats and then fulfills their words—a messenger better by far. Let us rejoice in the Advent prophecies for they stand fulfilled. And as Jesus goes forth victoriously, let us heed the Father’s command, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”

Insight – These signs, wonders, and prophets speak the word of God, the gospel of the coming Christ. Each repeats the Proto-Evangelion, the message heard from the beginning that a victor would arise to crush the serpent. With Moses this repetition took the form of, “The LORD God of your fathers… will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…unto a land flowing with milk and honey…and, you shall not go empty.” Isaiah declared that “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.”

 

Discussion  – Discuss with your family how the Living Word is made known through the written and spoken word. Discuss how sermons, studies, and readings strengthen our faith. Discuss Jesus’ authority as the Living Word of God and the surety of His word’s fulfillment.

Prayer – O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

 

From Pastor Todd Davis, Christ Church, Searcy, Arkansas

Year C – Fourth Sunday After Epiphany – Jeremiah 1:4-10

Jer.1:4-10 NRSV

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Summary – Jeremiah prophesied from the time of King Josiah to the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC. God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to tell Judah that she was going into exile into Babylon because of her sins. Jeremiah did not think he could speak the powerful words of a prophet because he was still a young man. A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word. He plucks up and pulls down, destroys and overthrows, builds and plants kingdoms and nations (Jer. 1:9-10). That is a very big job to do. No wonder Jeremiah thought he could not do it. But God gave Jeremiah the words to say, and promised to be with him.

Insight – Telling people bad news is never fun. Doctors have to tell people bad news, they tell people that they are sick or even worse, dying. But doctors also tell people how to get better. Jeremiah was much like a doctor in this way. He told Judah that they were so sick from their sins that they were going to die in exile in Babylon. But since Jeremiah was a good doctor, he also gave them good news. God was going to bring Judah back to life, by returning them back to their land (Ezek. 37)! God was rebuilding His kingdom. Judah’s story is much like our own. Because of our sins our spirits were dead in sin (Eph.2:1). But Jesus is the great doctor who brings us back from the dead, and builds us into a beautiful kingdom that will one day fill the whole earth (Matt. 13:31-33).

Catechism – What is a prophet? A prophet is a person who can destroy and create worlds with God’s Word.

Discussion – How is Jesus the greatest prophet of all? What does Jesus use to build His kingdom? How can we be like the prophets?

Prayer – Almighty God, you created Heaven and Earth with your powerful word. Please grant to your Church the wisdom to build your Kingdom though out the earth by the power of your word, the Bible. In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, Amen.

Submitted by Michael Shover

Year B – Epiphany 4 – Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Deuteronomy 18:15-20  – The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.  This is what you requested of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the LORD my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”  Then the LORD replied to me: “They are right in what they have said.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.  Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.  But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak–that prophet shall die.”

Summary – Deuteronomy is to Moses what Ecclesiastes is to Solomon.  This book contains the words of Moses at the end of his life.  He often looks back on the mighty works God performed for Israel and the lessons they learned from them.  But he also looks forward in hope for the future when he will not be there, but when God will continue to faithfully care for His covenant people.  This is one of those passages.  God promises to raise up another Prophet when Moses is gone.  He will be like Moses, a brother to them, and will continue to speak God’s Word in a way they can hear and understand.  God would judge those who refused to hear and obey his words.  They were to judge those who counterfeited them.
Insight – When he was asked about Tim Tebow’s prayerful quarterbacking, Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said, “The universe has a trillion stars. Ninety-five percent of it is dark matter.  It’s hubris [foolish pride] to think the Creator of all wants the Broncos to win a football game.”  To an unbeliever, the universe is a vast expanse of cold silence – mostly dark matter.  But this is a lie.  To paraphrase Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He has NOT been silent!”  God has gone to great lengths to speak to His People.  His Word has always been a priority.  It is the food by which He faithfully feeds those who fear Him; He doesn’t forget His covenant.  In the context, Joshua was that prophet to Israel … a lesser Moses.  But this passage points beyond the first Joshua to another Who would come as the Greater Moses.  He would not only bring the Word as one having authority, He would be the Word made flesh.  During Epiphany, we celebrate God Who ‘told the gospel word to the nations who’d not heard.’  In Christ, we who begged for the crumbs from the table have been brought to the feast of the Word as sons.
Children’s Catechism –  How did God promise to speak His word to Israel after Moses died? By sending another prophet.
Discussion – In what ways does God speak to His people today?  Are there prophets that tell the future today?
Prayer – Kind Father, You have exalted above all things Your holy name and Word.  Thank you for giving that Word as a gift to feed us by His death.  Cause our hearts to burn in love of Your Word and to be enlarged to return our gifts to You and to the nations, for Your glory, in the name of Your Son, our Lord, the Word made flesh. Amen.
Contributed by Ben Rossell

Year A – Fourth Sunday of Easter – Acts 2:42-47

Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:42-47: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Summary – Following the blessing of the first fulfilled Pentecost in which over three thousand men were converted, we now have a summary of the life of this Pentecost church in Jerusalem. There are several features of their life together highlighted by Luke: Apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. Their life together was a community of Word and Sacrament which yielded the fruit of sharing in order to meet all needs.

Insight – Whereas last week, our reading from The Acts provided a wonderful summary of the gospel, this week, we find a golden summary of church life.  There is a refreshing simplicity and balance to the picture of Christ’s Church in her infancy: doctrine and practice; body and soul; outward growth and inward unity. Here Luke seems to be bragging about the believers’ giving.  Christ had taught them that no one would ever give up his family or land without receiving a hundred times back what he lost [Mt 19.29].  He also taught that true generosity occurs when gifts are given to those unable to ever repay [Lk 14.13].  Here is a beautiful portrait of what these things looks like “day by day”.  Lastly, after recently having been challenged to eat as a Christian, what a great summary we have of just that idea in verse 46.  They ate with “glad and generous hearts.” (Insight from Ben Rossell)

Child’s Catechism – To what should Christians devote themselves? To “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Discussion – In what ways can we work to help our church toward being more like this picture?

Prayer – Gracious Father it is You Who open Heaven to give rain, sun, and life.  You give health and growth to the dust of the ground and our bodies that came from it.  With these, Your good gifts, we make our bread, tables, and roofs.  Put gladness and generosity in our hearts so that we will be like Your Son, by Whose willing poverty we have been made rich, and in Whose perfect name we pray, Amen.

 

Year A – Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50:4-9

Palm Sunday – Liturgy of the Word
Isaiah 50:4-9a: The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty? All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Summary – Isaiah explains how God sustains him through the Word. Like a teacher, Isaiah is able to share this Word to help others. Each day Isaiah hears God’s voice. The next verses provide a Messianic image, fulfilled in the trial of Jesus: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” Yet this Messiah is determined and will be vindicated since the Lord is with Him. One can hear echoes of Paul in 1 Cor. 1 and Romans 8: 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Romans 8:33 – “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.” This passage concludes with the picture that the enemies of Messiah will all pass away.

Insight – Have you ever looked carefully at a nice woven rug or a tapestry? There are usually recurring patterns. The Bible is full of patterns, too. This passage provides us with a pattern that is deeply woven into the experience of God’s people. Isaiah begins by receiving the Word from the Lord, then giving it to others. In so doing, Isaiah moves to reflect upon his own suffering for the sake of that Word. As he explains this, he moves into Messianic territory, prophesying the very events of Christ’s life. These events took place  in Christ’s trial and crucifixion. The pattern seems to be 1) receiving the Word. 2) Suffering because of the Word. And 3) Identification with Messiah. The apostles experienced a similar pattern. As they went out proclaiming the good news, they were often rejected and suffered (e.g., Acts 16 in Philippi), but as a result they knew more of Christ. One important application is that we grow in receiving God’s Word. That is, we should increase our intake of Scripture and listen for His voice as we do so. Then we will perhaps be able to harvest the fruit of that Word as we speak with  others. But remember that as you do so, you will likely experience some kind of persecution. Still, the result is a deeper experience of identifying with the One who was struck, beaten, spit upon, and finally crucified for you.

Child’s Catechism – How should we grow? By hearing more of God’s Word and sharing it with others.

Discussion – What are some ways that you could to know and grow in the Word even more?

Prayer – God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people.In this time of repentance, draw all people to yourself, that we who confess Jesus as Lord may put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

Year A – Lent 1 – Matthew 4:1-11

First Sunday in Lent
Matthew 4:1-11 – Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ‘ Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ‘ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ‘ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ‘ Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Summary – Matthew 4 is the narrative of the 40 days of Jesus in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil. The three temptations listed here are to bread, glory, and kingdom. Jesus was genuinely tempted since he had physical needs, he was to receive recognition and glory, and he was to receive the kingdoms of the world. Jesus always responded to these temptations with the Word of God: It is written, “One does not live by bread alone” – Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” – It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him. After successfully enduring the temptations then he was cared for by angels. Like Israel in the wilderness Jesus, “did eat the bread of angels” (Psalms 78:25).

Insight – When we are tempted, the reason that it can be a temptation is because there is desire, need, or right for the object of temptation. I am not tempted at all to eat insects. Place them on a glittering tray with a beautiful garnish and magnificent presentation and it still will not be attempting to me. It is when there is need, desire, or a right that something can be offered which provides for a legitimate temptation. This is what Jesus endured. He had physical needs and therefore bread was needed and desired. In the other examples of temptation, Jesus had a right to these things as the son of God and as the world’s true Lord. However, we learn from this that only what is given in God’s way and in God’s time is legitimately received. Jesus  understood that he must endure the suffering set before him to accomplish God’s purpose before receiving the glory and kingdom promised (Dan. 7:13-14). He understood that even his physical need for food (bread) without which humanly speaking he could starve to death, we’re not to be received on the devil’s terms. Jesus was will to receive these gifts only on God’s terms and God the Father provided. The last part of the passage informs us that angels came to minister to him. The bread provided by angels was better than bread the bread of temptation.

Child’s catechism – What is Lent? Lent is a season in the Church Calendar which remembers the 40 days of Jesus in the wilderness.

Discussion – What kind of things do you want now, which if you waited for them, would be better?

Prayer – O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.