The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Jesus declines to be relevant, refuses to prove himself, and rejects power over others

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I’ll explain my title in the next day or two.  He is so uncooperative!

First Sunday in Lent February 10, 2008
Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 5:12-19; Genesis 2:15-17,3:1-7; Psalm 32

Matthew 4:1-11
The Test
1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”

4Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”

5-6For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”

7Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”

8-9For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”

10Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

11The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 5:12-19
The Death-Dealing Sin, the Life-Giving Gift
12-14You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.

15-17Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?

18-19Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Genesis 2:15-17
15 God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order.

16-17 God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead.”
Genesis 3:1-7
1 The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.'”

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

7 Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 32
A David Psalm
1 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.

2 Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.

3 When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.

4 The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

5 Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”

Suddenly the pressure was gone—
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

6 These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
we’ll be on high ground, untouched.

7 God’s my island hideaway,
keeps danger far from the shore,
throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.

8 Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:

9 “Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle
to stay on track.”

10 God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves loved
every time they turn around.

11 Celebrate God.
Sing together—everyone!
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

February 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

One Response

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  1. Monte–

    This week’s lections is what got me thinking about “exile” a few weeks back. I’m rolling out my thoughts during this Lenten Season. Lent seems to always remind me of personal and corporate experiences of exile.

    You can check out the first installment: http://www.brianniece.com/2008/02/11/a-lenten-exercise-analyzing-exile-1/

    More to come …

    Brian Niece

    February 11, 2008 at 3:29 pm


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