Based on Luke 4:1-13
The Gospel reading for the First Sunday in Lent is always one of the Gospel accounts of the temptation of Jesus. Our Sunday lectionary readings are in Matthew this year, and you would have heard Matthew’s account in worship on March 1. Our daily readings bring us to the account in Luke, and in the season of Lent, you can’t hear this too often.
Why? Because the forty days of our Lenten observance (excluding Sundays which are “in” Lent but not “of” Lent) take their shape from Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness, being tempted by the devil. For the Lord, this time of testing was a direct challenge to Jesus as beloved Son of God, declared so at His Baptism just before. As Jesus rose up out of the baptismal waters, full of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit led him into the wilderness.
The devil tempted Jesus with basic human need (hunger), authority and glory and finally, the devil used Scripture to try to trick Jesus into testing God — but in each instance, the Lord responded with the words of Scripture to resist temptation. And though Jesus remained faithful and obedient, the devil departed from Him until “an opportune time.”
And how are your forty days in the wilderness of Lent going? Is the devil tempting you? If you’ve decided to abstain from something throughout Lent, are you being tempted mightily to eat of the forbidden fruit? If you’ve chosen to add a daily Bible reading or devotional time to your Lenten journey, are you keeping your discipline faithfully? Or are you finding the devil tempting you at every turn? The Good News is that our Savior and Lord is faithful and obedient, though we are yet sinners. Should you stumble in your Lenten observance, get up, turn around and head off again in the right direction, trusting, knowing that for Jesus’ sake, we have a God of “beginning again!”
Prayer: Lord God, what a friend we have in Jesus — all our sins and griefs to bear! May we find mercy and forgiveness in the embrace of the sinless one. Amen.
Lenten response: Make yourself a Lenten calendar, and mark a cross on each day as its done.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
7:1 Woe is me!
For I am like those gathering fruit,
and those harvesting grapes,
when there is no grape cluster to eat,
and no fresh figs that my stomach craves.
2Faithful men have disappeared from the land;
there are no godly men left.
They all wait in ambush to shed blood;
they hunt their own brother with a net.
3They are experts at doing evil;
government officials and judges take bribes,
prominent men announce what they wish and then they plan it out.
4The best of them is like a thorn;
their godly are like a thorn bush.
Woe to your watchmen;
your appointed punishment is on the way.
The time of their confusion is now.
5Do not rely on a friend;
do not trust a companion!
Even with the one who lies in your arms,
do not share secrets!
6For a son thinks his father is a fool,
a daughter challenges her mother,
and a daughter-in-law her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are his own family.
7But I will keep watching for the Lord;
I will wait for the God who delivers me.
My God will listen to me.
8My enemies, do not gloat over me!
Though I have fallen, I will get up.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.
9I must endure the Lord’s fury,
for I have sinned against him.
But then he will defend my cause,
and accomplish justice on my behalf.
He will lead me out into the light;
I will witness his deliverance.
10When my enemies see this, they will be covered with shame.
They say to me, “Where is the Lord your God?”
I will gloat over them.
Then they will be trampled down
like mud in the streets.
11It will be a day for rebuilding your walls;
in that day your boundary will be extended.
12In that day people will come to you
from Assyria as far as Egypt,
from Egypt as far as the Euphrates River,
from the seacoasts and the mountains.
13The earth will become desolate
because of what its inhabitants have done.
14Shepherd your people with your rod,
the flock that belongs to you,
the one that lives alone in a thicket,
in the midst of a pastureland.
Allow them to graze in Bashan and Gilead,
as they did in the old days.
15 “As in the days when you departed from the land of Egypt,
I will show you miraculous deeds.”
16Nations will see this and be disappointed by all their strength,
they will put their hands over their mouths,
and act as if they were deaf.
17They will lick the dust like a snake,
like serpents crawling on the ground.
They will come trembling from their strongholds
to the Lord our God;
they will be terrified of you.
18Who is a God like you?
Who forgives sin
and pardons the rebellion
of those who remain among his people?
Who does not stay angry forever,
but delights in showing loyal love?
19Who will once again have mercy on us?
Who will conquer our evil deeds?
Who will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea?
20You will be loyal to Jacob
and extend your loyal love to Abraham,
which you promised on oath to our ancestors in ancient times.(NET Bible)
68:1 For the music director; by David, a psalm, a song.
God springs into action!
His enemies scatter;
his adversaries run from him.
2As smoke is driven away by the wind, so you drive them away.
As wax melts before fire,
so the wicked are destroyed before God.
3But the godly are happy;
they rejoice before God
and are overcome with joy.
4Sing to God! Sing praises to his name!
Exalt the one who rides on the clouds!
For the Lord is his name!
Rejoice before him!
5He is a father to the fatherless
and an advocate for widows.
God rules from his holy dwelling place.
6God settles those who have been deserted in their own homes;
he frees prisoners and grants them prosperity.
But sinful rebels live in the desert.
7O God, when you lead your people into battle,
when you march through the wastelands, (Selah)
8the earth shakes,
yes, the heavens pour down rain
before God, the God of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9O God, you cause abundant showers to fall on your chosen people.
When they are tired, you sustain them,
10for you live among them.
You sustain the oppressed with your good blessings, O God.
11The Lord speaks;
many, many women spread the good news.
12Kings leading armies run away – they run away!
The lovely lady of the house divides up the loot.
13When you lie down among the sheepfolds,
the wings of the dove are covered with silver
and with glittering gold.
14When the Sovereign One scatters kings,
let it snow on Zalmon!
15The mountain of Bashan is a towering mountain;
the mountain of Bashan is a mountain with many peaks.
16Why do you look with envy, O mountains with many peaks,
at the mountain where God has decided to live?
Indeed the Lord will live there permanently!
17God has countless chariots;
they number in the thousands.
The Lord comes from Sinai in holy splendor.
18You ascend on high,
you have taken many captives.
You receive tribute from men,
including even sinful rebels.
Indeed the Lord God lives there!
19The Lord deserves praise!
Day after day he carries our burden,
the God who delivers us. (Selah)
20Our God is a God who delivers;
the Lord, the sovereign Lord, can rescue from death.
21Indeed God strikes the heads of his enemies,
the hairy foreheads of those who persist in rebellion.
22The Lord says,
“I will retrieve them from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
23so that your feet may stomp in their blood,
and your dogs may eat their portion of the enemies’ corpses.”
24They see your processions, O God –
the processions of my God, my king, who marches along in holy splendor.
25Singers walk in front;
musicians follow playing their stringed instruments,
in the midst of young women playing tambourines.
26In your large assemblies praise God,
the Lord, in the assemblies of Israel!
27There is little Benjamin, their ruler,
and the princes of Judah in their robes,
along with the princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali.
28God has decreed that you will be powerful.
O God, you who have acted on our behalf, demonstrate your power.
29Because of your temple in Jerusalem,
kings bring tribute to you.
30Sound your battle cry against the wild beast of the reeds,
and the nations that assemble like a herd of calves led by bulls!
They humble themselves and offer gold and silver as tribute.
God scatters the nations that like to do battle.
31They come with red cloth from Egypt,
Ethiopia voluntarily offers tribute to God.
32O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God!
Sing praises to the Lord, (Selah)
33to the one who rides through the sky from ancient times!
Look! He thunders loudly.
34Acknowledge God’s power,
his sovereignty over Israel,
and the power he reveals in the skies!
35You are awe-inspiring, O God, as you emerge from your holy temple!
It is the God of Israel who gives the people power and strength.
God deserves praise!(NET Bible)
4:1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’”
5Then the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm – and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 7So then, if you will worship me, all this will be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
9Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Let me mention at least a few testimonies from the year 1520. In June, Luther wrote to the same Dungersheim, “We wish to be judged by Scripture; you wish to judge it … If the Fathers are to be read without selection and judgment, the Scripture is taken away.” (17–18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.