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Two Contagious Men, One Temptation

March 17, 2011

Sunday’s sermon was a café service with some response and discussion and I didn’t have a full text, but some of you out in blogdom might be interested in the notes. Theologians will notice my Yoderian and Augustinian takes on these passages.


The service began with a ritual of ashes and the reminder that Lenten discipleship is about not only dying with Christ, but also remembering our mortality


We then read together this prayer of confession by Stanley Hauerwas


Lord Almighty, we say we want to serve you, we say we want to help others less fortunate than ourselves, we say we want justice. But the truth is, we want power and status because we so desperately need to be loved. Free us from our self-fascination and the anxious activity it breeds, so that we might be what we say we want to be – loved by you and thus capable of unselfish service. Amen.

Stanley Hauerwas, Prayers Plainly Spoken


Following this we listened for the Word of God from the Sunday’s Lectionary


Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7 (temptation of Adam and Eve)

Matthew 4: 1-11 (temptation of Jesus)


We listened in particular for links between the temptations.


Finally I spoke about the temptations in the light of the Epistle reading from Romans 5: 12-19


My argument was that both Adam and Jesus are tempted not to trust God


Adam: For Adam, the serpent (that dragon like character from the ancient imagination) suggests into his consciousness the notion that God is his rival ‘Did God really say this’… God’s actually scared you might know stuff that God knows and be like God… so he’s pulling the wool over your eyes. The serpent is stuffing up Adam’s theology at the level of emotion and desire. Suggesting God as a competitor on the same [ontological?] level as Adam… even a bit scared. And so Adam is tempted not to trust God.


Jesus: This time the tempter is called Satan, but it’s a similar story ‘Bread alone’. Live as if God isn’t really there! Stick to the so-called basics of bread alone, making a living for example. Or, to take another example, ‘take on the kingdoms of the world’, under the slippery notion of ‘responsibility’ perhaps he is offered power over others. God cannot be trusted to sort out history, so you need empire to make sure things turn out alright.


Both Adam and Jesus were tempted not to trust God


Adam gave in … he lived (even though he was told he would die), but he died spiritually … and with him a whole world-culture died spiritually (his way was contagious). There’s a whole world of people who don’t trust God (and not just among the Christians!).


Jesus did not give in to this temptation. He trusted God and died on a cross, but in the meantime he lived spiritually (and not just that he was vindicated by God and raised to live even now in the same manner) an a new world-culture flows from him (even including some Christians!)


Paul in Romans says there’s two kingdom, or two dominions here… both men are contagious in their own way. We are faced with two worlds.


The temptations of Jesus and Adam and are the same ones we faced and can, perhaps be boiled down to one temptation: Will we trust God (and live even if we die) or will we not trust God (and die, even if we live and our lives are a whole lot easier and more comfortable)


Let’s talk together about trusting God.


What are some of the ways and occasions you have trusted God?

What things represent for you temptations not to trust God?



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