Genesis 9. 8 – 15
Psalm: 25
1 Peter 3. 18 – 22
Mark 1. 12 – 15
Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Holy One. How can the Holy One, the Son of God, be
tempted? The temptation of Jesus is mind-boggling. What sense can we make of it? Last
Sunday we were left with the question. Who can forgive sins? The obvious answer is :
God alone. Jesus is God and so He forgives sins. This places Jesus at the opposite and
distant pole from humanity. Today we have Jesus at our pole, one with us. The One who
forgives sins is subject to temptation! These two truths of faith are essential to understand
the mystery of Jesus – God and Man.
Jesus’ power to forgive sins and His radical solidarity with humanity are two essential
dimensions of His personality, and precisely His personality as the Saviour Jesus is fittest,
so to say, to meet adequately, and more than adequately, the needs of man, to be man’s
Saviour. Man is a sinner. A sinner stands in need of forgiveness, and only God can forgive
sins. Hence we perceive the divine nature of Jesus. But Jesus is not pie in the sky Saviour.
Forgiveness of sin is not a mere cancelation ritual. Jesus became human like us in
everything. He himself was tempted and suffered. Jesus became one with humanity; He
stooped to save. Jesus temptation is a consequence of His solidarity with humanity.
No man is so perfect and holy as not to have temptations, and we cannot be wholly free
from them. Yet temptations are often very profitable to a man, although they be
troublesome and dangerous: for with them a person is humbled, purified and instructed. All
the saints have passed through many tribulations and temptations and have profited by
them; and those who could not support temptations became reprobates and fell away.
Temptation in one form or another is an unavoidable part of life. If we honestly examine
our daily experience, we can find many aspects of temptation: impulses or tendencies
counter to the right way of doing things. To rationalise away these temptations, so that they
become socially acceptable and politically correct — is itself an insidious temptation. We
want to dictate for ourselves what is right and wrong, to draw for ourselves the boundaries

of “acceptable” behaviour, unencumbered by any notional commandments of God. This is
rather like Adam demanding to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Our real
growth to Christian maturity comes by acknowledging and accepting the vocation of
struggling against temptation, to achieve the kind of behaviour and attitudes Jesus expects.
We must submit our behaviour to his gospel. Christ and Adam show the two opposite
reactions in face of temptation: Adam, archetype of sinful, evasive, self-seeking humanity,
finds plausible reasons to yield to it, and rebels against God’s will. Jesus, archetype of the
new God-seeking man, resists temptation even repeatedly. It can only be conquered by this
blend of patience and loyalty, supported by trust that what God requires of us is what is best
for us.
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus proclaiming that God’s will for the world was being
fulfilled. The kingdom of God, the reign of God in which people are being reconciled to
God and restored to their original innocence is being established even as Jesus speaks. So
for the Christians the Good News is the Good News of their salvation that God has saved
them through the suffering, death and resurrection of his beloved Son Jesus. This is the
Good News of Christ, and this Good News recounts the building of the kingdom of God –
the Good News of the salvation of God’s chosen people. Jesus commissioned his disciples
to make known the Good News of their salvation to all the people’s of the world. Jesus has
entrusted to us the task of proclaiming this Good News to the whole creation. Having
reconciled to God by Jesus Christ be become part of it. Having experienced Christ
personally, having glimpsed into God’s kingdom, and having tasted eternal life here on
earth through the resurrection of Christ we cannot remain silent but proclaim this Good
News to the whole creation.
The Good News of Jesus was accompanied by the forgiveness of sins and miracles of
healing. The Good news of Jesus Christ restores broken lives, it gives hope, it drives away
fear, it promotes true peace; it is concerned for the wellbeing of others who cannot care for
themselves. It is concerned with building up what is good and destroying what is evil and
sinful. Christian life demands to recognize the power of the Good News; to see what it has
done for us, to give thanks to God and turning other people to the knowledge of Christ.
Last Wednesday we began the season of Lent. We have five weeks of Lent now until
Easter. Lent does not have quite the impact it used to have. It doesn’t seem to have as much
of an impact on the lives of Christians as Ramadan has on the lives of Muslims. Yet, it is

worth reminding ourselves that Lent is beginning. As a church we have set out on a journey
which will end at the Easter Triduum, those three great days of Holy Thursday, Good
Friday and Easter Sunday. The gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent is always the
gospel reading of the temptation of Jesus. Mark’s account of the temptation of Jesus is the
shortest by far. We are given no dialogue between Jesus and Satan; the temptations are not
spelled out in any way. Instead we have that enigmatic statement that Jesus ‘was with the
wild beasts and the angels ministered to him’.
The Lord’s ministering, empowering and comforting presence is always at hand. That was
the opening message of Jesus as soon as he stepped out of the wilderness, ‘the time has
come; the kingdom of God is close at hand’. Jesus had come up against the kingdom of
Satan during his forty days in the wilderness. However he emerged from that testing time
knowing that the kingdom of God was stronger than the kingdom of Satan, proclaiming that
the reign of God was present for all. In his letter to the Romans Saint Paul would put that
conviction in a very succinct fashion, ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more’. That
is why Paul could say to the members of the church in Corinth, ‘God is faithful, and he will
not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way
out so that you may be able to endure it’. There may indeed be wild beast out there, forces
that seek to undermine our faith in the Lord and the way of life that flows from that.
However, today’s gospel reading assures us that there is an even more fundamental reality,
and that is the reality of the Lord’s empowering presence. The angels will minister to us; the
Lord will stand by us. He has given us and will continue to give us an abundance of
resources. God is constantly at work among us and within us. Like Saint Paul we can say, ‘I
can do all things in him who strengthens me’.
One way of understanding Lent is to see it as the time when we try to give in to the many
ways that God may be trying to touch our lives. We often think of Lent as a time when we
try to give up things. There can be a real value in that. However, more fundamentally and
more positively we might think of Lent as a time when we give in to the Lord who is
always present to us and calling out to us. The church sets aside this season of Lent in the
springtime of the year as a reminder that we may need to awaken spiritually. Although the
Lord is present to us, we are not always present to him. Although the reign of God is at
hand, we don’t always entrust ourselves to that good news. As we awaken spiritually, as we
give in to the Lord, as we become more aware of the Lord who is around me, above me,
below me, at my right hand and at my light hand, then we may experience a new desire to

give up whatever is not serving our relationship with the Lord. We enter this season of Lent
not just as individuals but as a community of faith. It is as a community that we are called to
turn more fully towards the Lord and to walk together in his company towards Holy Week.
‘We will get to our destination if we join hands’ .
God bless.