Narrative Lectionary: Highs and Lows (Matthew 4:1-17)

RevGalBlogPals | 1/15/2019 | Staff
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When I visit a nursing home near my church, I say hello to the receptionist, and ask her how she’s doing. Her answer is always the same. “The devil is busy,” she says firmly. Sometimes, if the phone isn’t ringing, she elaborates with news of her family’s struggles, or an illness or a problem she’s having. In view of the world, the devil is hard at work. Jesus could say the same, after his desert encounter with the tempter.

Read the Working Preacher commentary by Dr. Jeannine K. Brown here.


Read the scripture here.

The devil is working hard to offer Jesus things that seem like good ideas. He offers, not just lunch but many loaves of bread. Why feed everyone who’s hungry? Why not check to make sure God is really on his side, before he starts this dangerous and lonely work for God? Why not have all the kingdoms of the world at his disposal, instead of starting with one fisherman at a time? Quoting Deuteronomy, Jesus has an answer for each tempting offer.

Offer - Jesus - Devil - Jesus - Time

After the third offer, Jesus tells the devil to go away, and it happens. Apparently, Jesus could have told him to skedaddle any time, so was he wanting to hear the devil out? Listening politely? Exercising his skills in resisting? Once the devil is gone, there’s space for the angels to come and wait on him. He has more resources on his side than we imagine when the conversation begins.

It may be, given that the landscape of the Bible, that the devil and the angels appear in bodily form. Or, after a long time of fasting and prayer, this whole battle may happen within his spirit.

Selection - Imprisonment - John - Temptation - Story

The lectionary selection adds the imprisonment of John to the temptation story. Jesus has another, parallel, withdrawal after he hears the news about...
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