MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on knowing God, knowing ourselves and knowing our mission. What is our reaction to Jesus’ temptation? What does it have to do with The Lord of the Rings? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent to find out. Please read Matthew 4:1-11. #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #LordoftheRings #Satan #Geladriel #Frodo #Wealth #Magic #Power #Matthew #Messiah
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 3/9/2014 The 1st Sunday of Lent.
Please pause this audio, read Matthew 4:1-11 and watch the YouTube clip below from the movie THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
In the movie, The Lord of the Rings, there is this great scene where Frodo has the Ring which holds all the power of the universe and offers it to the Elf Queen Galadriel. It makes sense. She is kind and beautiful. She is strong and principled. When he offers her the ring, she reaches for it and admits that she has always wanted the Ring. She begins to be morphed into a lightning surrounded loud demanding Queen who proclaims her own beauty. Then, when you think she is going to snatch the powerful Ring from Frodo’s hand and use it to dominate the world, she pulls her hand back and returns to her gentle form with a breath and says, “I passed the test.”
When the Hebrew people had been liberated from Egypt, they wandered the desert for forty years because of their failure to lack trust in God to deliver the Promised Land into their hands in Numbers. They received God’s promise. They scouted out the land. They saw men bigger than they and a geography that would be hard to win. They completely forgot the little incident at the RED SEA! They had forgotten the God in their debauchery and worship of the golden calf when Moses was up on the mountain. They had forgotten Moses, the mouth of God, who spent forty days fasting on the mountain with God and who wrote a second set of tablets for them to obey God and live free from sin.
It seemed that every time we turned around, the Hebrew people were failing the test. They were given freedom in the desert and complained there was no bread. They were given bread and then complained there was no meat. Then they complained that they had too much meat. God had brought them safe thus far, but they failed to believe he could bring them home. These are the people through whom God wanted to and did save the world from their sins.
He did it through Jesus Christ. The temptation of Jesus in the desert is no accident. The passage follows Jesus Baptism in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is declared “This is my beloved Son…” (Mt. 3:17). It is immediately after this declaration that we find Jesus in the desert for forty days, similar to the forty days of Moses on the mountain. Then, after Jesus is starving, Satan comes to Jesus. Our translation has “if you are the Son of God,” but the Greek also means, “Since you are the Son of God,” which makes more sense to me here.
Satan has come to test the metal of the proclaimed “Son of God.” Would this Son be any better than the “Chosen people?”
Satan comes at him hard. Hungry from fasting, he tempts him to use his power as the Son of God for material goods to satisfy his personal needs. Jesus resists. Then Satan comes at him hard again, “Since he is the Son of God, why not provoke God into showing his love by putting yourself in a dangerous situation.” Satan even quotes scripture to make his case. Jesus resists. Satan comes at him one last time and deceitfully offers Jesus power. He offers him the power of Kingdoms under Jesus control. Jesus resists.
Jesus resists by quoting Moses from this great passage in Deuteronomy 6 and 8. In fact, Chapter 8 is all about resisting temptation. Yet, in Deuteronomy 6, we are called the Shema, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One. You shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.” It is a call to how we are to love God. It is a call to eat the words of God by memorizing scripture as it says in Ephesians 6, which is the sword of truth. It is to remember who we are, who our God is and what he has called us to do. That is how we resist temptation.
Returning to Galadriel, the elf Queen, after she passed the test, in resisting the temptation that we all would want, world domination, she then accepts who she is and has no desire for the Ring anymore. In response to Galadriel who tells Frodo that he has been appointed a task to do, he says, “I know what I must do. It’s just, I am afraid to do it.”
The incredible fact of Jesus’ resistance is that it is our resistance, too. He resists material goods, magical tests for God and political power. These are all things that could have sidetracked his real goal: our liberation from sin for all who are baptized into him. He knows himself and he knows God. Therefore, he doesn’t have to have the trappings of all that the world sees as valuable. Jesus is truly God’s Son. He carries out the will of the Father. He remembers who he is and what his mission is. During Lent, we remember who Jesus is and what his mission is. During Lent, we remember who we are and what our mission is.
I think we are like Frodo and his mission with the Ring of Power. He is afraid. I think we are afraid. We don’t think we can resist temptation. Do we think that because we fail or because we do not try? Lent is a time to renew and rededicate ourselves to the practices of the faith, the practices that copy Jesus in his battle against temptation. Are we spending time alone with God? Are we reading and memorizing scripture to have ready when the tempter comes? Are we fasting to remind us that we cannot live without every word that comes from the mouth of the living God?
We can do it because our Lord resisted the temptation that the people couldn’t in the desert. He is God’s Son and we are part of him through our baptism. So, we can resist material wealth, magical god fixes, and power trips, because we have been baptized into Jesus. It is one thing we have the Hebrews didn’t: we have the power of being Children of the Living God with the gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism. We can make it, we can do it. Know who you are. Know who God is. Know your mission. Start now. Amen? Amen.
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