Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Saved to Worship Only God

“The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.”  Matthew 4:11 CEB

Its hard to read any portion of the gospels and not feel the implication of Calvary's cross and the empty tomb.  Even this ending to last Sunday's gospel has the hint of Christ's last temptation and final hope.

The task we have in our season of "self examination and repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial, reading and meditating on God's holy Word," is not simply to fight off our temptor's invitations for "their own sake.”

In order for that hopeful casting to be current to our striving we'll need to remember this:
It's not about us! It's about God. Just before what is described in verse 11, we hear Jesus say, "Go away Satan, as it is written, you will worship the Lord your God and serve only him."

Even this wilderness education and testing of Jesus is not just so that we can admire him as tougher than the devil or simply imitate him and expect similar results.  It is also so that we can see ahead to the effect of his obedience to God and hope to be as obedient ourselves.

Matthew will do this again and help us to look ahead to the glory in and beyond Jesus’ dying in hope and utter surrender.  All sorts of human structures built in the confusion that our salvation is always the point eventually and even cataclysmically fall.

Beyond Matthew's rending of the temple's veil, the crumbling of the tombs and hopeful bright Sunday morning there is another 40 days.  Both are periods of paradigmatic change!  Both are hard work.  Both have surrender to something bigger than our own interests.  Both have temptations.  Both end with angels. Both are about serving only the Lord our God.

Our first 40 days are still largely ahead of us. The closer we approach the end our tendencies will be to get lost in the structures and only rehearse a surrender. We’re prone to get caught by the busy-ness of things like Madison’s Palm Procession, or night after night of Holy Week observances, or our larger society's own usurpation of the holiday with bunnies and eggs.

The 40 days after Easter we get to spend with Jesus, who as the one raised from the dead is even better than an angel.  Both periods work to help us honestly, hopefully, obediently “worship the Lord our God and serve only him.”

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