Today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. On the church calendar, this is the day when Jesus’ followers remember the temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness when the tempter said to him, “If you are the Son of God.” Luke tells us there were three manifestations of this same temptation for Jesus to use his identity as the Son of God for self-serving purposes by:
- Turning stone into bread
- Kneeling to the tempter and becoming the ruler of the kingdoms of the world
- Putting God to the test by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple
On the first Sunday in Lent, Jesus’ followers remember that Jesus defined his identity as the Son of God by overcoming the tempter in the wilderness. This is the day we remember that Jesus’ identity as the Son of God was not only defined in the wilderness. Jesus’ identity as the Son of God was also revealed as Jesus moved beyond the wilderness on the journey to the cross as Jesus:
- Became the daily bread of God
- Kneeling to God and becoming the redeemer of the kingdoms of the world
- Trusting in God in spite of the deadly reality of the crucifixion
On the first Sunday in Lent, Jesus’ followers affirm that Jesus is the Son of God as we:
- Live with faith in Jesus, God’s gift of daily bread
- Worship and serve only the Lord our God
- Trust in God as we follow Jesus in his journey to the cross
On the first Sunday in Lent, we remember that the testing of Jesus’ identity in the wilderness is not the only testing Jesus faced during the course of his ministry. Verse 13 of the 4th chapter of Luke reminds us of this fact with these words: “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.”
What was the opportune time that Luke writes about? While there were many occasions on Jesus’ journey to the cross when Jesus’s identity was tested, I invite you to consider these words from the 35th verse of the 23rd chapter of Luke about the opportune time of testing that Jesus encountered at the end of his journey to the cross: “And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”
It is in the reality of the cross that Jesus’ identity is fully revealed. On this first Sunday in Lent, if we wish to fully understand the full identity of Jesus as the Son of God then we must walk with Jesus beyond the wilderness to the cross. If we wish to fully understand the identity of Jesus who sought to serve others rather than himself, who lived and died among the powerless, and who trusted in the God of life as he died on the cross, then we must follow Jesus on the journey to the cross. As followers of Jesus, we realize that our faith in Jesus is not defined by the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness. Our faith in Jesus is defined by the cross of Jesus.
Jennifer Moland-Kovash writes about what it means for followers of Jesus to travel with Jesus beyond the wilderness on the journey to the cross:
We remember and acknowledge the wilderness of our journey—a wild place of questions and fears and doubts and temptations. This wilderness is part of our story but not the end. We have the voice that speaks in the wilderness, Christ shouting down the tempter and assuring us we are not alone.
Living by the Word, Jennifer Moland-Kovash, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/living-word/march-6-lent-1c-luke-41-13
Each Sunday during the season of Lent, worship will focus on the identity of Jesus as he traveled the journey of the cross. Each Sunday we shall consider our identity as followers of Jesus who travel the path of the cross with our Savior.
May God bless us on the journey to the cross.
Journey to the Cross
by Pastor Marc Brown
March 6, 2022
Accompanying Scriptures: Luke 4:1-13
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for March 6, 2021
Scripture Lesson Luke 4:1-13
The Good News “Journey to the Cross”
Music “You Are Mine” by David Haas
Closing Music “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” by James E Clemens