Tempted and Triumphant

There are a good number of well-intentioned, good-hearted folks who were raised to think that anything in a church that looks, smells, or hints of anything Catholic is, well, of the devil. It’s not Christian for sure.

I don’t think I was raised that way per se, but I caught enough of that sentiment to believe it up to a certain point in my life. Fortunately, though, I had caring and thoughtful models in the faith who showed me the other side of the proverbial Catholic/Protestant coin. There is much to be grateful for as a Protestant. We stand on the shoulders of the Catholic Church after all.

One of the things I appreciate now is the Church calendar. I know it’s not particular to the Catholic Church, but certainly her influence is felt to this day when talking of any liturgical community. And now, in the season of Lent, I find myself looking down that long corridor of ecclesiastical history. There is such connectedness with the Church catholic (universal) if one will enter through the various doors of that corridor.

In particular, as I begin a series on encounters with Jesus, I look to Jesus’ wilderness testing in which he fasts for…wait for it….40 days and nights.

There are hundreds of sermons one could preach from Matthew 4:1-11, but I preached about the types of temptations Jesus faced.

1. Self-sufficiency (3-4)

2. Self-image (5-7)

3. Self-glorification (8-11)

I exposited my little heart out. Since I’m an evangelical Protestant, I also felt compelled to make a “personal application.” If you sense the muffled ire, you know me well.

But I really believe in this application and find it helpful in this Lenten season. From Matthew 4 I looked to Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  (16)  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

More often than not, I find myself in need. I find myself failing and flailing. As we draw near to the throne this season, may we remember that Jesus’ temptation was/is our temptation. Accordingly, we have a Savior who walks through the fire with us. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you...

Thanks be to God.

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