Lent is the season when we remember Jesus’ 40 days of testing in the Wilderness and his victory over the evil temptations. Why is Lent so important that I’d want to give up coffee for it?
A study on Luke 4:1-3 for young adults from the Society of Salt and Light, in Christchurch.
A quick introduction to the week’s bible passages and theme, which aims to engage people in the big picture of God’s story, and the challenge of living faith in light of that.
I remember visiting the SPCA a few years ago to choose a kitten. It was a big moment of commitment – and I was excited to finally find my furry soul mate. Walking into the communal cat pen I was overwhelmed by the variety of furballs attempting to win my affection. But clinging to the wire door was a giant ginger cat, screeching a blood curdling “rreeeaaoowwll”. He’d just had one of his back legs amputated and looked horrible. I quickly choose the cute 4 legged kitten I liked the look of and tried to leave the pen without seeing too much detail of his stump. “Who would ever take that guy home?” I said to the SPCA carer. “Yeah” she replied. “His chances aren’t great.”
Have you ever made a big decision that went against the logical thing to do because God seemed to be asking you to do it? Like taking a job that pays less and involves working with hard people, rather than the one which pays more, requires less hours, is respected by your friends, and is pretty cushy. God’s voice doesn’t always call us to comfortable places or to choose comfortable options.
Our passage today from Luke see’s the Spirit of God calling Jesus from the comfort of his hometown, into 40 days of Wilderness fasting where the Devil tempts him with the glories of the world and tests him to see if he’s the Messiah he claims to be. Adam and Eve failed this test. The people of Israel ultimately failed this test. Does Jesus have the goods to save the world? Or will he crumble?
Lent is the season when, as we head to Easter, Christians remember Jesus’ humanity, his ability to suffer what we suffer, and his triumph when faced with the great temptations of the world. It’s traditionally been a time of preparation for us —through prayer, repentance, giving, and self-denial. But it’s not really about us at all.
Because the real point of Lent is to recall Jesus’ ability to take on the powers of evil, and win. And we learn what kind of Messiah Jesus is; Not one that grants us what we immediately desire, but one who invites us to hear and obey God’s Spirit and share in his suffering, hope and glory.
For the Scholars
Discussion questions focusing on exploring the bible passage.
1. Do you really think there is any hope, in our time and culture, of living in a way that seems authentically Christian? Why/why not?
READ Luke 4:1-13
2. What situation is Jesus in when these temptations happen?
3. Looking at each of the three temptations the devil puts before Jesus (verses 4-5, 6-8, 9-12):
- What is the devil trying to get him to do?
- Why would they be hard to resist for Jesus at that time and in that situation?
- How does Jesus answer the temptation?
(Your group could break into smaller groups for this and look at one temptation each)
4. In God’s big story (ie the Bible), twice before God’s people had undergone big temptations similar to this: Adam/Eve, and the people of Israel in the wilderness. What were Adam/Eve, the Israelites, and Jesus all tempted to do?
5. The Spirit filled Jesus, for this first time in history, succeeded in resisting this sort of temptation. He began to break the human track record of failure. What might that mean for other humans he has given his Spirit to, like, say Christians?
6. So, now, do you think there is hope, in our time and culture, of living in a way that is authentically Christian? Why/why not?
FOR THE DREAMERS
Discussion questions focusing on mulling over the theme.
1. How do you feel about the idea of God’s Spirit leading you into challenging places? Have you ever made a decision to take the harder option because you felt God was calling you to it? What happened?
2. Have you ever felt as if you’ve been in a “Desert Time” in your life? (note: quite different from a Dessert Time, which is rather delicious) What was it like? What impact did it have on your faith?
3. Why do you think God allows us, or even leads us, into these Desert Times in our lives?
4. Lent reminds us of Jesus’ humanity – that he was both fully human and fully divine – and faced the temptations we do. How do you think Jesus felt during his fasting and wilderness time in the desert? (Watch the ‘Soulfood with Matt Stott’ video on the Society of Salt & Light YouTube channel for an insight into what a 40 day fast is actually like)
5. The Spirit-filled-Jesus, for this first time in history, succeeded in resisting this sort of temptation and broke the human track record of failure when faced with evil. What might that mean for other humans he has given his Spirit to, like, say Christians?
6. Is there anywhere you can already see that this hope could start to be at work in your life?