The Holy Gospel: March 13, 2011 (Year A)

Read:  Matthew 4:1-11

Meditation:  “When Satan Gets Serious”

The devil doesn’t spend much time on us when we are dabbling with our discipleship.  Sunday Christianity and superficial commitment are no threat.  They never have been.  But once we are baptized—that is, once we have consciously chosen to follow Jesus and have taken vows to do so, everything changes.  We are put to the test, and we are tempted to turn the spiritual life into another self-help program.  We are tempted to make it “all about us”—satisfying our hungers, preserving ourselves, and gaining as much power and control as we possibly can.

Lent begins with temptation, because authentic spirituality begins with testing.  Celebration quickly turns into challenge.  Sunday in church quickly becomes Monday in the neighborhood, or at work.  When spirituality hits the road, Satan hits the trail.  And we will never be freed from the possibility of turning back or caving in—compromising, or quitting. We never move beyond the place of vulnerability.

Peter reminded us that our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  One day, it dawned on me that a lion only looks for prey it does not already have.  A lion does not have to hunt what it has already captured, or eat what it has already devoured.

Lent is God’s way of telling us every year to “be on guard.”  If we are truly God’s children, and if we are seeking to live as faithful disciples of Jesus, we will feel the “hot breath” of the evil one on our necks, and we will hear the sound of a lion licking his chops.



About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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