Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Genesis 9 8-17
1st Peter 3:18-22
It was only a few weeks ago, when we were still in the season following the Epiphany that hear this same lesson, however this is the reading that is assigned for the first Sunday in Lent each year and so we find ourselves being witnesses at Jesus’ baptism once again. As Jesus came up out of the water, a dove descended from heaven and he heard the words of God saying, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus had spent thirty years growing up and maturing in the small village of Nazareth. He would have been a part of all the things a young boy would have experienced as he was growing up. Those experiences were essential to Jesus if he were to be all man while also being all God. But I suspect that during those maturing ears he began to sense a tug at his heart that God had a plan for his life; and it was in a response to that call that Jesus found himself at the Jordan River asking that John baptize him. Others were coming for John’s baptism as a sign of their repentance, but Jesus had no need to repent. He did, however, want to identify with the people and give them an example to follow because he had made a decision to respond to the path that God had set before.
Our lesson says that following his baptism that the angel “drove” Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted or tested. And that may seem strange until we realize that God doesn’t test us in order to bring us down, but rather in order to build us up. We temper steel in order to mold it and make it stronger and God wants to do the same thing with you and me.
Jesus’ time in the wilderness would be the time when he would determine the direction that his ministry would take. Satan offered Jesus the easy way out. He said “you’re the son of God. Take control and rule.” God told his son, “love the people even though they will destroy you.”
At the time of your baptism, I believe that God said to you and me, “you are my son…you are my daughter, in you I am well pleased.” God has called each of us. He has a plan for your life and mine and he looks for you and me to make a decision, just as Jesus did, to follow the path that he has set before each of us.
There may be times when we feel that we are lost in a wilderness surrounded by all kinds of temptation and alone, but that is never the case. We are always sheltered by God’s angels and we mustn’t ever forget that. Satan is for real and he too is ever present and persistent. Our challenge is to never lose sight of the fact that we are forever protected by a God who is good….all the time. Amen.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.