1 Peter 3:18-22
Peace be with you!
Lent is a time when we look at what tempts us on a daily basis. We realize and understand temptation and sin are real in the world. Even when we do our best, temptation is still there. Sin is in the world. Jesus even had to fight temptation.
The gospel of Mark only has one verse about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by Satan. Jesus was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him (Mark 1:13). Even during his temptation, God the Father protected Jesus. Jesus also honored God the Father in everything he did. God so loves his only begotten Son that he protects him by sending angels to watch over him.
Jerry and I have three dogs, plus a puppy. Boy, do they test my patience! Just the other night, Jerry was gone, and I took all four outside one last time before heading for bed. The oldest dog, Lily, did not want to come in. The other three dogs were wrestling on the bed. I tried to fool Lily by going into the house thinking she would come by the door after finding herself alone.
But then my fears of the coyotes hurting my dog got the best of me, so out I went. I decided to go outside of the pool cage and go shepherd her in. However, in the midst of my frustration, I misjudged how far out the sand is that borders my house for future bushes. Yep, you guessed it. I drove my electric wheelchair into the sand, and there I sat. I tried backing up. I even got out of my wheelchair and tried to push it out of the sand myself. Of course, that did not work; my muscles are not strong enough. Luckily, I had my cell phone in my wheelchair pocket, so I called Kim, my step-dad, who came and got my electric wheelchair out of the sand. Even in my temptation to teach Lily a lesson, God protected me by helping me not to take my frustration out on Lily, making sure I could call for help, and having Jerry come home and talk to Lily.
God protects and cares for us in the midst of such everyday life situations. To me, my four dogs are like my children. Experiencing God caring about my dogs and me just reminded me again how much he cares about everything in my life. He cares about every single part of his creation. I also experienced a tiny taste of God’s unconditional love for me when I continue to love my pets even when they misbehave.
Mark shows God going on the journey. First, God claims Jesus as his only begotten Son. By naming Jesus as his Son, God is reclaiming the world as his own. God becomes part of his flesh-and-bone creation in order to make it new from the inside out. God sends himself into the world to reclaims humankind as his children.
The good news comes to us through John the Baptist and Jesus. We are introduced to Jesus through John the Baptist, who is the first to obey God completely and who also later turns out to be the first martyr. John the Baptist is the one who directs us to God and shows us the way to the light through Jesus Christ.
Second, the good news challenges us to accept a new way of life with God beside us. When Jesus dies on the cross for our sins, God claims all of us as his children. We are God’s children even when we go against him, because he loves us so deeply. God sent Jesus Christ to claim us as his children.
When we repent and ask for forgiveness, we realign ourselves with the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We rededicate ourselves to God during communion just as God the Father rededicated himself to us through Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
Whenever Jerry and I have to punish one or more of the dogs, we always give them love after the punishment. Even though they are just dogs, it is important for them to know we love and forgive them, so they do not become afraid of us. When Jerry was done scolding Lily the other night, he took her in his arms to reassure her of his love. In the same way, God reassures us of his love on the cross. By making the ultimate sacrifice, God gives the greatest gift: his love.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for realigning your love with creation. Help us to realign ourselves with your love, so we can experience your grace. Thank you for the greatest gift: your love. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How does God protect you when you are fighting temptation?
2. How do you realign yourself with God?
3. How has experiencing love for a child or a pet helped you to understand God’s unconditional love for you a little better?