“Until An Opportune Time”

Sermon – 03-06-22 – Lent I – Cycle C
Scripture: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
Sermon Title: “Until An Opportune Time”

The devil, Satan, is featured in our scripture today. Did you hear the last line of the gospel? “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. The “him” is Jesus. The devil finished every test. But who passed the test? Jesus, of course!

Our faith is based on Jesus passing the test. Jesus passed because he knew the scriptures which were written before his appearance on earth. Jesus probably did not need to be taught the scriptures because Jesus was present with the Father and the Holy Spirit from the beginning.

What is the beginning? When was the beginning? Before time. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were always! They were always three, forming God. So Jesus was part of the guidance for the Old Testament to be written. Jesus was part of the inspiring force for the writers of the Old Testament to capture the verbal telling of how our world came to be and write it for all time.

The written word is part of Jesus. Today we might say it is in his DNA. Jesus passed the test with Satan because he knew the scripture. How much scripture do I know by memory? How much scripture is written in my heart? How about you? Some scripture is alive in our hearts and minds because they have been put to music.

These words that Jesus quoted to Satan come from Deuteronomy and the Psalms.

Deuteronomy 8:3
He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:13
The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.

Psalm 19:11and 12
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

We can probably find songs for all three passages. Psalm 19:11 and 12 are captured in the song we know called, “You Who Dwell in the Shelter of the Lord,” especially verse 3. “For to the angels God’s given a command to guard you in all of your ways; upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

When temptation comes our way, can we pull scripture from our minds and hearts which will protect us, which will lift us above the temptation? You are probably waiting for me to get to the refrain after the words, “. . . lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Yes, to be lifted above the temptation, to stay in relationship with God and therefore out of relationship with Satan, we feel as if God is raising us up on eagles wings. Picture us being part of the breath of dawn – a new day, a good day, then even shining like the sun, being held in the palm of God’s hands.

Did you catch the words “until an opportune time” at the beginning of this sermon referring to Satan’s returning when he feels like it? Are there times in your life when it seems Satan is on your back and won’t get off?

Think of Satan being on everyone’s back at the same time, as in Ukraine. This is the devil returning at an opportune time. What shall we do? How can we thank God for our safety when those people are living in hell, so to speak? This could be the end of the world. This could be the time for the second coming of Jesus. If nuclear energy, used wrongly, brings the coming of Jesus, maybe our wait is over.

This is the time when we need to read Psalm 91. We need to read it and sing it until it is part of our DNA. We need to hear God singing to us, “And I will lift you up on eagle’s wings; bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.”

It is to be believed that God will send his angels to care for us in whatever way is God’s plan. As we will hear next week, in addition to being lifted on eagles wings, we will be offered shelter as chicks under the wings of the mother hen. Amen

1 thought on ““Until An Opportune Time”

  1. Michael O'Donnell

    It appears to me that this sentence indicates that the devil intended to return to Jesus at an opportune time. All of the discussions of Luke 4 that I can find seem to interpret it as the devil coming to someone else later on. In that case, I would have expected Mark to write something more like, “until he found a more receptive person to tempt,” rather than “until an opportune time.” Is there any serious scholarly Christian discussion of Mark 4 that either takes seriously the devil’s intention to return to further tempt Jesus, or explains why the text doesn’t mean what it appears to mean?

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