RCL Year A Lent 1
Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-7, Psalm 32, Romans 5:12-19, Saint Matthew 4:1-11

In the Gospel today, we see Jesus defeat the devil. Jesus refuses each of the devil’s temptations. Jesus remains sinless, and the devil leaves him alone. I editorialize that he slinks away with his tail between his legs. This is the way Jesus deals with the devil and with sin: Jesus takes no suggestion from the devil, and Jesus touches no sin.

Whatever your Lenten disciplines are, I don’t recommend trying to match Jesus. Only God can hand the devil this defeat and remain sinless. The way we deal with the devil and with sin is by following Jesus. We refuse the temptations we have the power to refuse, and when we sin, we turn to Jesus in repentance and contrition. We ask him for forgiveness, and he gives it to us when we are truly repentant. We cannot match Jesus in the sinlessness department. Only a fool would try to equal Jesus.

And in case we miss the point in the Gospel, we have our inability to resist the devil in the Lesson from Genesis. God gives the man and the woman in Eden a single commandment, and, before you know it, Satan tempts them on that very commandment, and they fail.

Yet God loves them and continues his relationship with them. In time, God will send his Son Jesus to defeat the devil and to do what only Jesus can do: be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Only Jesus fulfills the roles of Savior and Redeemer—only he, because only he refuses all of the devil’s temptations.

Even and perhaps especially in Lent we may rejoice that we were made and redeemed by a loving God whose love surpasses and outweighs our sins and our failings. Call on him when you need to do so. That’s one thing I do recommend.