1st Sunday of Lent, Year A
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17
March 5, 2017
Today we hear the story of the “original sin.” Adam and Eve were in the Garden and God had given them just one rule. They were told not to eat of the fruit of one particular tree. There were plenty of other trees so it didn’t seem like a big deal. They had plenty they could eat.
Then out comes the serpent who is described as “the most cunning of all the animals.” He wants them to disobey God but he knows they will not disobey God without some trickery. So he uses his cunning to cast doubt on what God has said.
First, the serpent says, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” He knows full well this is not what God had said and Eve knows that and responds accordingly but he whittles away at what God has said… Next, he tries to get portray the one rule God has given them as selfish. Why did God tell them not to eat from the tree? Because, “God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”
Sounds appealing and so Eve ate the fruit and got Adam to do the same. Satan works the same way with us. He will try to distort God’s word. He will try to make it look like God has alternative motives. Satan tries to make sin look good.
He does this to tempt us, to get us to sin.
Sometimes Satan’s cunning is too much for us and we sin. Sometimes we are weak and are not always able to resist and we sin. Resisting temptation is not easy but it is part of being human.
As a human, it was necessary for Jesus to face temptation. So, right after his baptism, Jesus is “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
He fasts for forty days and so he becomes hungry. The tempter said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” This might not even seem like temptation. Jesus hasn’t eaten for forty days. It might seem perfectly reasonable for him to use his power to have bread to eat but Jesus knows he does not have this power for selfish reasons. He knows God provides the word that truly feeds him.
Next, the devil tries to deceive Jesus by using scripture to tell Jesus He can throw himself down and God will save him. Does scripture teach us to trust in God? Absolutely, but, as Jesus says scripture also says, “You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test.” We can fully trust in God but that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want and expect God to rescue us from our own stupidity.
We probably aren’t literally going to throw ourselves off a parapet and expect God to catch us but are there times we rush blindly into something and then question God when things don’t go well.
The devil tries to tempt Jesus one more time but offering him all that physical things of this world if Jesus will just worship him. To have everything…power, wealth…
Many, many people give into this type of temptation and put their whole lives into building up wealth and power for themselves. Hopefully you don’t succumb your whole life to this but how many individual choices do you make for wealth and power that lead down the slippery slope away from Jesus?
Of course, Jesus is able to resist all temptation. I say “of course” because He is the Son of God. Jesus shows us that it is possible to resist temptation but we might feel it is impossible for us.
With God’s help, all things are possible but it is true that often we sin. It started with the original sin of Adam and Eve. As Paul writes, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death.” Death here is the separation from God caused by our sin.
But there is hope.
God offers a gift following our sins. It is “the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ.” It is the gift that “brought acquittal.” It is the “gift of justification” “For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”
The gift comes through Jesus’ death on the Cross. The gift is freely given. There is nothing we can do to earn this gift but we do need to accept it. To accept it, we must confess our sins and resolve to sin no more. We often fall short but we must keep trying and keep repenting.
How have you fallen into temptation? What do you need to confess?
And so we cry out in our psalm, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”