To listen to Pastor Marcus’ message click on the audio player below:
Message based on Luke 4:1-13
Spiritual challenges, temptations or whatever we would like to call them, the fact is we face them every day in our lives. Today we have entered the church season of Lent. Lent is not the church season of celebration like Advent leading up to Jesus’ birth. Lent is a season of soul searching and repentance leading up to the death of Jesus. It is a season for reflection and taking stock of our lives.
Our gospel lesson from Luke reminds us that Jesus too faced temptation. One of Jesus’ first acts of ministry as an adult recorded in Scripture was when Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The devil tempted Jesus with promises of power and authority. On the sandy plains of Palestine, for forty days, human history hung in the balance. As we look at these three temptations, we can see that they focused upon three subject matters that we see a lot of debate upon in our culture today.
These temptations focused upon the following subject matters:
In Phillip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knewone chapter discusses the temptation of Christ and an opinion that one filmmaker had concerning the temptation. This particular filmmaker questioned what did people want their Messiah to look like?From an economic viewpoint, would people not want someone who was the Messiah of all the people? Would they not want someone who could turn stones into bread to feed thousands? Concerning spirituality, would people not want a Messiah who knew the Torah backwards and forward? Would they not desire someone who would stand tall at the pinnacle of the temple? Politically would people not want a Messiah who would rule not just over Israel but all the kingdoms of the world?
The devil proposed to Jesus a more enticing opportunity to gain power and authority. The devil tempted Jesus with all the good parts of being human without the bad, to savor the taste of bread without being subjected to hunger, to confront risk with no danger, to enjoy fame and power without being rejected. The devil was offering Jesus the chance to become a powerful authority. The devil offered Jesus the crown without the cross. Fortunately for us, Jesus chose to be the suffering servant and followed God’s will and purpose for him.
Certainly the season of Lent is an important time not only to prepare ourselves to celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but also those changes that take place around us. The ecumenical pioneer of our Moravian Church, Nicholas Ludwig Von Zinzendorf once wrote:
“I have observed that the preservation of community is best assured through a process of continual change.”
August 19, 1753, Jungerhaus Diarium
Life has been described as a continuing process of letting go of the old and familiar, and opening ourselves to be led by God into something new unfamiliar, and even exciting. In this process we trust that God is with us in this journey of faith.
With these thoughts in mind, it is with mixed emotions that I share with you that I am moving into a new ministry setting next month trusting in God’s guidance. I have accepted the call to become the Assistant to the President of the Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Moravian Church of America, Southern Province. I will officially conclude my ministry at Christ Moravian Church on Friday, April 5th. That means my final Sunday will be March 31st. Our family and I have appreciated your support and covet your prayers not only for Christ Moravian Church but also for us in this time of transition.
As we continue our Lenten journey that places us upon different paths, may this be a time for us to listen for God’s voice and direction and trust in God’s plan for each of us.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
March 10, 2019