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Gospel SUnday 13 March 2011

Matthew Chapter 4, verses 1 - 11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4 But he answered, "It is written,
"One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
"He will command his angels concerning you,'
and "On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10 Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
"Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.'"
11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

This is a very familiar passage to all Christians. The version in Matthew is very similar to the one in Luke.

It is about temptation - the temptations caused by the needs of our physical bodies. It is about the fact that we need to put our spiritual needs, and the path to God, above those physical needs. That we should be ruled by what is right, above what we can do.

I found myself reminded of film - Spiderman. Where the Uncle tells Peter Parker in the car "With power, comes great responsibility" - or words to that effect.

We live here in a very comfortable world - when we compare ourselves to those living in more dangerous, less affluent societies. Should we be satisfying our own wants and desires - or paying more attention to what is right, to God's way.

Any other thoughts?

Fasting has caught my attention. I've never fasted. I remember some in dad's church would fast on occasion. I think I will research what the Bible has to say about it.
I couldn't imagine going for forty days and nights without food.
Scripture does nurture our spiritual needs and benefits us eternally, food benefits the temporary needs of our bodies.

We don't go the whole forty days without food. Usually it's limited to one small meal after the ninth hour (3pm) with no animal products of any kind (though in some places fish is allowed) or olive oil and wine (except on the Sabbath and Lord's day). There are few days we abstain completely from food.

However, in Jerusalem we find that, according to the Pilgrimage of Egeria (4th century), the Hebdomadarii, that is those who keep the weeks' fast, ate a floury gruel on the Sabbath after the dismissal and again on the Lord's Day after the dismissal and then wouldn't eat again until the next Sabbath; thus Lent lasted eight weeks to make up the forty fast days (and which is probably the origin of the pre-Lentern periods found in Rome and Byzantium to make eight weeks in imitation of the custom at Jerusalem). The custom was also that those who were called Apotacticae only ever ate once a day even on non-fast days.

Interesting, and shows how the early Church fasted with a vigour which would probably shock many today. Anyway, the reason we fast is that we put ourselves through the plough, so to speak, so that the seeds of grace can be sown in us. Forum Index -> Bible study
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