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Lent reflections (1)

February 27th, 2008 by isaac · 3 Comments

I wrote a series of Lent reflections for a Mennonite magazine: Leader. They had to edit them down quite a bit to fit the magazine’s parameters. Below is my unedited reflection on the Scripture passages for the first Sunday of Lent.

Lent 1: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11.

Lent is a season where we follow Jesus into the wilderness and learn to resist the temptation to take control of our destiny, to be our own gods. Life is not something we achieve with our strength; rather, it is something we receive as a gift from God—as Paul says, it is a “free gift,” an “overflow of grace” (Rom. 5:17). During Lent we resist the temptation to think of our future as something we grasp, something we possess; and instead we train ourselves to wait for what we cannot achieve nor conceive: the wondrous grace of the embrace of God demonstrated to us through Jesus Christ.

This is our fallen condition: we want to be divine, not human; gods, not creatures. In the story of creation and fall, the serpent leads the first man and woman to a tree that will make them “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). When the man and woman reach for the fruit, they seek to leave their creatureliness behind forever, and soar the heights of heaven as God’s equals. But their grasp at divinity fails when they look at their naked bodies—their flesh still bears the marks of humanity. They failed at their quest for divinity and their bodies testify to their failure. As Sebastian Moore says, “man is ashamed of his body because it remains faithful to God in being what it is, while man tries to be God” (Jesus the Liberator of Desire, pp. 163-164). But equality with God is not something to be grasped, as Jesus teaches us.

“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matt. 4:1). And when the tempter confronts him, Jesus succeeds where the man and woman in the garden failed: Jesus doesn’t escape his humanity; instead he chooses to suffer like us, and ultimately for us. The devil tempts Jesus with short-cuts to his destiny as Messiah that bypass suffering and death. But Jesus refuses to grasp at his destiny, to choose his own path. Instead he suffers hunger in the wilderness, and waits for the ministry of God’s angels.

Tags: theology

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 melissa flo-bix // Feb 27, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Isaac, I think I saw a picture of you and some other CHMFs in the Leader a few months back…

    Hey, can I get a post response from you?


  • 2 isaac // Feb 27, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Mel, I guess I didn’t notice your site change. I just posted something on your post.

  • 3 Lent reflections (6) // Mar 17, 2008 at 7:08 am

    [...] Lenten reflections I wrote of the Mennonite publication, Leader Magazine. Here are the other ones: Lent 1, Lent 2, Lent 3, Lent 4, Lent 5. [...]