Bible readings for Sunday, March 1, 2020

As we begin the season of Lent, a time of introspection, reflection, and repentance, leading to the realization of the need of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our redemption, we begin with the fall of humanity into sin as recorded in Genesis 3:1-21. There are many themes running through this passage, such as: temptation, twisting of God’s command, disobedience/sin, punishment, death. One of the themes that is often overlooked is the fact that before the fall into sin, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God face-to-face, but after the fall into sin they hid from God, and blocked themselves from each other. God came looking for them. Once found, they would not take responsibility for their sin, and blamed others. How heartbreaking – to walk and talk with God, but then to hide from Him. We do the same, our sin has separated us from God. But God comes seeking us; He does so through Jesus, and He restores us to Himself through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are responsible for our sin, but Jesus takes the responsibility for our sin upon Himself, dies in our place, and restores us to fellowship with God. When the End comes and Jesus returns, then by grace through faith we will again be able to walk and talk with God face-to-face. What a glorious day that will be!
Oh Lord, we long to see You and talk to You face-to-face, just like Adam and Eve did before they sinned, and just like Jesus did throughout His life. Forgive our sins each day, and on the Last Day, by grace through faith take us to Yourself forever so that we can see You and rejoice in Your mercy in Jesus. Amen.

Today’s Psalm, 32:1-7, is a wonderful psalm of repentance and forgiveness. Follow the progression in the psalm – the joy in forgiveness, the burden and oppression of unrepented sin, and the wholeness that comes when God forgives. The psalm ends by encouraging the people of God to seek Him for forgiveness, hope, and life.
Merciful Lord, the burden of sin weighs heavily on us, drying up our strength as on a hot summer day. By Your Holy Spirit turn us to You in repentance, knowing that in Jesus we are forgiven and renewed. Refresh us in Jesus, and fill us with praise and thanksgiving. Amen.

The Second Reading, Romans 5:12-19, picks up where the First Reading left off in dealing with sin and its consequences: sin and death have spread to all people, but, by God’s grace in Jesus, sin and death are not the last words; it is Jesus Who has taken our sinfulness and our death upon Himself and conquered them in His death and resurrection, and it is Jesus Who now gives us justification and life by His grace. Let us trust Jesus to put us right with God.
Jesus, as we see our sinfulness, turn our eyes to You to see the grace and mercy You give to us through Your love. We thank You that we have forgiveness and life in You. Increase our faith in Your mercy. Amen.

Temptation and the fall into sin mark the First Reading. In the Gospel, Matthew 4:1-11, temptation again takes center stage, but this time the temptation is directed toward Jesus, Who is God in human flesh. What will Jesus do? Give in to temptation? Or continue to rely on the heavenly Father? The answer is clear, Jesus resisted temptation and by so doing began the destruction of Satan and his power, an essential work of Jesus which will be completed in His death and resurrection.
By the grace of Christ, we have His victory to lead us through our temptations, and we have His forgiveness when we again fall into sin.
Jesus, we are awed that You faced such temptations and yet You did not sin. We praise You for Your reliance on the heavenly Father and His Word. So fill us with Yourself that we too will rely on the heavenly Father and His Word, and lead us to seek forgiveness when we fall, knowing that in You is mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. Amen.

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