The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church,
Sermon preached by Br Andrew Efo at Springwood on Sunday 28th February 2016
This time, now the third Sunday in Lent we continue to examine the nature of ‘Temptation’. According to our Gospel two weeks ago Satan tempted Jesus to commit the sin of Idolatry when he offered Jesus the earth if he would but kneel to him.
We all heard Jesus’ response to Satan “get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”. (Luke 4:8JKV)-and we will hear Jesus repeat them closer to his death. (Mark 8:33)
St Paul shows us through his writing to the Corinthians, that Idolatry/Apostasy is the first Sin Israel committed whenever they felt insecurity about the Lord, or preferred their own way. If we are to think very carefully about it, this is also the first sin into which a Christian may fall if surrounded by things too hard to handle, too impatient for which to wait., or just by accident How so?
Idolatry is to pay attention to, consider, lavish attention on, worship, love, anything or anyone more than we love God. This can be our new car, latest boy or girlfriend, our Job, New Clothes, even the Ritual of Religion itself.
For those graver situations it is usually Apostasy wherein a person will stop believing in God, or create an angry God requiring appeasement, nullifying the Cross -and in these cases some kind of mental ill-health is involved for which we need Christian Counsellors.
Paul speaks about the Exiles being baptised into Moses as they crossed the sea of their feeding on the Spiritual Rock of Christ which was the pillar that followed them. Yet God was not pleased and most of them perished. The Corinthians also and we too have been baptized into the baptism of the Trinity and receive the Body of Christ yet not all of us will be saved.
When Moses is sequestered with God on the mountain receiving the Law these very same who were baptised into him, become Apostates, lose their faith in God and make one according to their own specifications, whose limits they have set. It is a Baal and they fall into the sexual immorality that accompanied Baal Worship. [Twenty-three thousand fell in a single day during Baal Worship at Peor (Numbers 25:1-9)9 exegeses required]
He reminds them of the snakes and redemption by the Bronze Serpent, of the complaints that led to obliteration by the destroyer – perhaps Satan. Paul reminds the Jews in Corinth of those times in their own past when they were delivered from their Temptations:
The old fashioned kind of idolatry was certainly a serious problem for the Corinthians. Corinth was known for the famous temple to Aphrodite, the goddess of love that had 1000 temple prostitutes. Most of the population took part in the worship of Aphrodite and other gods and goddesses. Paul was worried that it would be so easy for them to slip back into their old beliefs and practises. Likewise, he tells both them and us that God never tests anyone beyond their ability to endure, that just as in days of old God will always provide a way out. Just as in the Wilderness God will minister to us.
Just before we find Jesus in relationship to this particular reading I will say that our First Epistle and Psalm represent everything both we and the Jews cast aside when we put anything else before God, like an IPhone, or eBook, when we engage in activities which potentially separate us from the Living God. Jesus is our way out.
Jesus mentions to the Pharisees who come to warn him against Herod
of three days, today and tomorrow and on the third day I finish my work. Some have advanced the opinion that the third day is the Resurrection, but no, it is the Death on the Cross, that is when everything is Accomplished.
Jesus continues the war against the demons, he is winning the spiritual war without the need to be borne up by angels’ wings; the significance casting out demons has for Jesus’ ministry is given in Luke 11:20: “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” Casting out demons is part of Jesus’ battle against the devil and therefore part of his establishment of the kingdom of God.
In performing cures both today and tomorrow Jesus demonstrates a far superior way to have dominion over the earth Jesus heals humanity both spiritually and physically, Jesus makes the Earth whole again.
And on the third day Jesus must be on his way into Jerusalem because it is unheard of for a prophet to be killed anywhere but there.
This is the third time Jesus has visited Jerusalem and it has been his longing to gather her children under his wings – but they have never ever wanted to accept such tenderness and now it is too late.
Jesus will speedily complete his work amongst them and will not return until they see him when the time comes when*they say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”’ When for a brief time they recognise him.
That tenderness may have been wasted on his compatriots but it was there, is here for us, Jesus is the One in whom we trust. His blood has washed us clean and he is our intercessor with our Father who will teach us how to live that we put God first in our lives and do not commit the sin of the Israelites or the Corinthians or of Apple Inc.