First Sunday in Lent
Jesus Defeated the Devil for Us
These are the readings for the First Sunday in Lent.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Historically, it was a period of time during which the Christian would deny themselves certain luxuries or behaviors to focus more clearly on the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. Technically, the Sundays during Lent are not considered part of the forty-day season. Therefore, the passion history itself is not generally part of the Scripture lessons appointed for these days. Today’s lessons remind us of the stark contrast between God’s perfection and our sin-stained imperfection, but also of the victory Christ has won on our behalf and has credited to us.
Traditional First Lesson – Genesis 2:7-9,15-17; 3:1-7
Why did God issue the command that Adam and Eve not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Many asked why the Lord would make such a demand when he already knew that his creatures would not be able to keep it. God created us to worship and serve him in gratitude; he does not desire mechanical, robotic worship. Rather he wants hearts that willingly do as he asks. Adam and Eve had everything in the Garden without restriction. This was their one opportunity to refrain in order to show thanksgiving and love to their Creator. Remember, too, that God also already had a solution in mind for the sinful state that would result.
What did God mean when he said that “they would surely die”?
Adam and Eve did not die on that dreadful day, as we normally understand death. But death is really a separation, whether body from soul (physical death), man living apart from God on earth (spiritual death), or man separated from God forever (eternal death). While Adam and Eve did not undergo physical death, they certainly experienced spiritual death as they hid from God in shame.
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 3:1-15
The supplemental reading omits the context of Creation before the Fall but provides an expanded treatment of the results of sin. Most importantly it includes God’s promise to send the Seed of Woman as the champion of mankind in the battle against Satan. Inherent in the promise was the cost—though the victory was certain, so was the sacrifice!
Second Lesson – Romans 5:12-19
How was Adam a “pattern of the one to come”—Christ?
As by Adam’s sin, death entered the world and affected all people, so by the sacrifice of the one God-man Christ, all people have been redeemed.
How does the grace of God in Christ compare to the evil brought on by the sin of Adam?
Several times Paul uses the phrase “how much more.” God’s grace is infinitely more effective for good than is Adam’s sin for evil. Through his flesh he passed his failure on to all of his children, condemning us to sin and death. So God sent another Son in human flesh to be the Son that Adam had not been. He obeyed where Adam did not. The obedience of the second Adam had as wide an effect as the disobedience of the first: he gives his victory to us, declares us righteous, and brings life for all.
Gospel – Matthew 4:1-11
What did Jesus use to defeat the temptations of Satan?
Always the Word of God, a tool God graciously places, also at our disposal!
What parallels can be seen to God’s people as Jesus is tempted? (Compare Deuteronomy 8:1-5.)
As the Israelites were led into the desert to be tested, so Jesus was tested. But our Savior passed each test perfectly, depending on the power of God found in the Word.