Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday Lectionary Devotion: Overcoming Temptation - Luke 4

Lectionary Verse of the Day

Luke 4:1-2a       

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  (

Do you remember the old Tom and Jerry cartoons? Long before they were deemed politically incorrect because of the comic violence in them, I used to love watching them every night on TV. They made me really laugh, but I especially liked the cartoons when Tom the Cat or Jerry the Mouse struggled with temptation. When this occurred, there would usually be a small haloed angel on the right shoulder and a miniature red-faced devil on the left side of the cartooned characters. It was funny to watch and usually ended with Tom or Jerry giving in to temptation.

It would be handy to have such angels and devils on each of our shoulders. I guess they would keep us away from temptation. The Muslims believe in this, and live their lives in the fear that the divine scales of justice will lean against them because of succumbing to the angel of temptation too many times. Sadly, that’s why some of them strap explosives to themselves and commit suicidal murder. They wrongly believe that their sins are wiped out in the process of killing innocent people.

As Christians, we depend upon Christ to mediate on our behalf. He intercedes for us, asking God to forgive our sins and restore us to His Favor. That’s infinitely much better than having an angel on each shoulder, or blowing yourself up. This is why our faith is missionary – the good news of Christ’s forgiveness is what every person needs in this world, no matter what their faith system is. Christ alone has the power and authority to forgive sin, and Lord knows, we all are in great need of a Champion and Savior. This is one of the reasons that Christ was tempted in the wilderness - to experience our own wrestling with evil.

If you’re feeling guilty about something in your past, or perhaps you’re struggling against temptation, then please allow Christ to come into your heart to influence your life. Believe me, you’ll find that Christ has a lot more peace, love, and satisfaction to offer to you than you are presently experiencing. Just give Him the opportunity and He will help you turn your life around, by putting you on the true path to everlasting love and eternal life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we struggle with temptation every single day of our lives. We say and do things that we later regret. We make stupid mistakes and disappoint other people. Forgive our foolish ways and enable us to pull down the barriers of pride that keep getting in the way of allowing us to freely give our hearts and lives to You. In your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the devotional and religious art blog "Heaven's Highway."

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