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Monday, February 15, 2010

+ Ash Wednesday + February 17, 2010 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

Ash Wednesday
February 17, 2010
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12
Psalm 51:1-17 (1) or Psalm 103:8-14
2 Corinthians 5:20b—6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and honest hearts, so that, truly repenting of our sins, we may receive from you, the God of all mercy, full pardon and forgiveness through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Return to the | LORD, your God,
who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in | steadfast love. (Joel 2:13)

1a. CONTEXT: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

After his Baptism, according to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus

spent forty days in the wilderness, fasting and being

tempted by Satan (Mt. 4:1-11, Mk1:12f., Lk. 4:1-13). Our

Lord's fast was not, however, originally associated with the

Lenten season, which has its roots in the fasting and other

ascetical disciplines undertaken by catechumens in

preparation for Baptism at Easter. These pre-Easter

exercises can be traced at least to the second century; at

first they lasted only one or two days, and only in the

fourth century Festal Letters of St. Athanasius do we first

hear of a forty-day period of fasting. Even so, the

reckoning of Lent as a forty-day period has never been

established throughout the whole church: the Eastern

Churches spread the season over eight or nine weeks.

A penitential season of exactly forty days was made the rule

at Rome in the sixth century (before the time of Gregory

the Great); this was accomplished by including in the Lenten

fast the four days before the first Sunday in Lent. (The

Sundays in Lent do not count as fast- days; all Sundays,

being commemorations of Easter, are feast-days.)

The name "Ash Wednesday" derives from the medieval

custom of blessing ashes which were used to mark the

foreheads of the faithful as a symbol of penitence. The

reformed churches have generally discontinued this

ceremony, which they felt did not accord well with the

Gospel command (in the Roman and Sarum Missals

the Gospel appointed is Mt. 6:16-18).

1. TEXT: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21


Giving to the Needy

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Lord's Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you....


16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust [1] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

[1] 6:19 Or worm; also verse 20

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by
Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


6σὺ δὲ ὅταν προσεύχῃ, εἴσελθε εἰς τὸ ταμεῖόν σου καὶ κλείσας τὴν θύραν σου πρόσευξαι τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ: καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι. 7Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται. 8μὴ οὖν ὁμοιωθῆτε αὐτοῖς, οἶδεν γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὧν χρείαν ἔχετε πρὸ τοῦ ὑμᾶς αἰτῆσαι αὐτόν. 9Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς: Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου, 10ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς. 11Τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον: 12καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν: 13καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. 14Ἐὰν γὰρ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, ἀφήσει καὶ ὑμῖν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος: 15ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, οὐδὲ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἀφήσει τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν. 16Οταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί, ἀφανίζουσιν γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες: ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. 17σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι, 18ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ: καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι. 19Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσιν καὶ κλέπτουσιν: 20θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν: 21ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία σου.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

The Gospel for Ash Wednesday, a section of the Sermon on

the Mount, is a short catena of what Bultmann calls "Rules

of Piety" (cf.5:23f., 23:16-22; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 17:3f.) They

contain very little that is foreign to the best in contemporary

Judaism. The section may be outlined as follows:

Introduction: Mt. 6:1 - Ostentatious piety is condemned.

l. On Almsgiving: 6:2-4.

2. On Prayer: 6:5-6.

3. On Fasting: 6:16-18.

4. On Treasures: 6:19-21.

Verses 1-6,16-18 are peculiar to Matthew's Gospel. The

content of the sixth logion of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas

is similar to that of 1-6,16-18: "His disciples asked him

and said to him: do you wish us to fast? And in what way

shall we pray (and) give alms? And what observances shall

we keep with respect to eating? Jesus said: Do not speak a

lie and do not do what you hate, because everything is

manifest before Heaven. For there is nothing hidden which

shall no be made manifest, and there is nothing covered that

shall remain without being revealed" [cf. Mt. 10:26, Lk.


The content of these "rules" may well derive from Jesus

himself, but their formulation is due to the early Church.

The striking parallelism exhibited by the "rules" is clear

evidence of redactorial activity, either of Matthew or of

some earlier collector of Jesus' sayings.

To Matthew himself are doubtless due the introduction (6:1)

and the insertion of the Lord's Prayer (6:7-15).

Each of the first three "rules" consists of two brief

commands, one negative and one positive. The negative

commands enjoin the disciples not to imitate the

ostentatious behavior of the hypocrites who perform their

religious duties in public in order to gain a reputation for

piety (hopos phanosin tois anthropois [ doxasthosin hupo

ton anthropon]); solemn assurance is given after each

injunction that there is no further reward for hypocritical

behavior: amen lego humin , apechousin ton misthon auton .

The negative commands are couched in the plural, but the

positive ones are in the singular, as if in them the Lord is

addressing each individual disciple. Unlike hypocrites,

Jesus' followers are to perform their religious duties with

due modesty; their reward will be God's approval.

Mt. 6:1 - prosechete [de] tein dikaiosunen humon mei poiein

emprosthen ton anthropon pros to theathenai autois -

"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to

be seen by them" (AILL) - Dikaiosune is a very important

word in the NT. In the Pauline Epistles it is used of God's

righteousness, but here (and in Mt. 5:10,20) the meaning is

quite concrete: right conduct before God. It thus serves as a simple

shorthand for the acts of piety mentioned in the following verses.

- - The root of the athenai appears in English "theater"; the meaning

of the Greek verb is to look over, to regard (with attention and

surprise), rather than simply to see.

6:2 - hotan oun poies 'eleeimosunein - "Thus, when you give

alms..." (AILL) - Almsgiving had an important place in

Jewish piety. Tobit 12:8 runs, "It is better to give alms

than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from

death, and it will purge away every sin."

- - me salpiseis emprosthen sou... - "sound no trumpet

before you" (AILL) - There is no evidence for supposing that

the rich were accustomed to blow horns to summon the poor in

order to give them alms. The blowing of horns did play a

part in fasts, but this was a ceremonial matter. Jesus is

merely telling his disciples not to call attention to

themselves when giving alms to the poor; we might paraphrase

this saying as "Don't ring the church bells every time you

put a dollar in the collection plate." -- hupokritai - found

in vss. 2,5, and 16; the basic meaning is "one who explains

or interprets," hence actor. The word had originally a

neutral connotation, but in the NT only the sense "one who

acts insincerely" is found.

6:3 - me gnoto he aristera sou ti poiei he dexia sou - "do

not let your left hand know what your right is doing" (AILL)

- In the Bible, as in many ancient cultures, the right hand

is regarded as the hand of strength and of blessing (cf. Job

40:14;,Gen. 48:14), while the left hand is considered

unlucky,unclean, even deadly (Judges 3:15,21; II Sam.

20:9f.). This being so, it is at least conceivable that

this saying means "Don't let your left hand, which is

accustomed to doing evil, prevent your right hand from doing

good." However, it is more likely that we have here a

simple exhortation to secrecy. The saying also occurs in

logion 62 of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas.

6:4,6,18 - en to krypto kai ho pater sou ho blepon en to

krypto apodosei soi (vs. 18 has kryphaio for krypto). - "(so

that your alms may be) in secret; and God who sees in secret

will reward you." (AILL) - The phrase 'en to phanero is

absent from the best ancient manuscripts; it was no doubt

added by pious scribes wishing to make the antithetical

parallelism with the preceding en to krupto more explicit.

The point of all the "Rules of Piety," however, is not the

public nature of the Father's reward but its superiority to

mere human approbation.

6:5 - hoti philousin 'en tais synagogais kai 'en tais

goniais ton plateion estotes proseuchesthai - "for they love

to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street

corners" (AILL) - Standing was the usual attitude of prayer

among both Jews and Greeks. 'Estotes may represent a Hebrew

word meaning continue or persist; if so, Jesus is referring

to the length of the hypocrites' prayers. It seems more

likely, in view of the context, that Jesus is condemning

their love of publicity, although there is in fact no Jewish

evidence for the practice of praying in the streets except

during public fasts.

6:6 - su de hotan proseuchei, eiselthe eis to tameion sou

kai kleisas ten thuran sou proseuxai to patri sou - "But

when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray

to God (who is in secret)" (AILL) - This is a reminiscence

of Isaiah 26:20 - "come, my people, enter your rooms, shut

your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a while until the

wrath has passed by" - with "pray" in place of "hide." Jesus

takes public worship for granted (Mt. 5:24, Lk.18:9-14) but

those who engage in public worship should be as free of all

pretense as one who prays in the secrecy of a closet.

6:16 - hotan de nesteueite - "And when you fast"(AILL) -

Jesus took it for granted that his hearers practiced fasting

as an act of piety, though he made an exception for his

personal followers during his lifetime (9:14f. = Mk.

2:18-20; cf. also ll:18f. = Lk. 7:33f.). Pious Jews fasted

on Mondays and Thursdays; to distinguish themselves from

these "hypocrites," Christians were urged to fast on

Wednesdays and Fridays (Didache 8:1). --- me ginesthe hos oi

hypokritai skuthropoi, aphanizousin gar ta prosopa auton

-"do not look dismal, like the hypocrites,for they disfigure

their faces"(AILL) - Lack of proper nourishment can result

in one's appearing skuthropos, gloomy, sad, sullen, and it

is to avoid this that the Arch-eunuch urged Daniel and his

friends to abandon their vegetarian diet (Dan. 1:10

[Theod.]). The hypocrites in vs. 16 tried to imitate this

appearance by disfiguring their faces with ashes or


6:17 - su de nesteuon aleipsai sou tein kefalein kai to

prosopon sou nipsai - " But when you fast, anoint your head

and wash your face" (AILL) - Jesus commands his disciples

to take the opposite course, and by anointing their heads

and washing their faces to imitate the happy appearance of

those who are celebrating a feast.

6:19,21 - These verses have parallels in Luke 12:33f. and

hence may derive from Q. There seems to be an allusion to

them in Jas. 5:2f. In logion 76 of the Coptic Gospel of

Thomas the saying in vs. 20 is conflated with the Parable of

the Pearl of Great Price (Mt. 13:45f.).

3. STRATEGY: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

"All the world's a stage,/ and all the men and women merely players"


Shakespeare's famous line has been echoed by many

writers, as any dictionary of quotations will

prove. This is hardly surprising, since all human beings

are obviously "actors" playing different "roles." But they

are not merely actors: two 19th-Century English clerics,

A.W. and J.C. Hare, point out that "Everybody has his own

theater, in which he is manager, actor, prompter,

playwright, sceneshifter, boxkeeper, doorkeeper, and

audience" (Guesses at Truth, 1827). We like, so far as we

are able, to manage our own lives, to be in control of the

"action" in which we are the "actors." In the language of

the New Testament we are hypocrites, "putting on an act" so

that we will be thought well of by others and, as the Hare

brothers say, by ourselves--for we are our own most

important audience. Or are we? God is also watching, even

when we are not consciously "on stage." Since Lent is a

time for self-examination, we might profitably ask ourselves

such questions as: Where is our "theater"? How are we

"managing" it? What audience are we usually performing for?

What audiences should we pay more attention to? What are

the "box-office receipts"? What sort of applause do we

seek? From other people? From ourselves? From God?

What is the value of this "applause" in each case?

4. REFERENCES: Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

Bultmann, Rudolf. The History of the Synoptic Tradition,

transl. by John Marsh.2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell,1968.

M'Neile,A.H. The Gospel According to Matthew. London:


Johnson, S.H. "The Gospel of Matthew," in the Interpreter's

Bible, vol. 7. NY: Abingdon, 1951.

M.H. Shepherd. The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary.

NY: Oxford University Press, 1950.

G. Kittel, ed. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,

transl. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963.

Articles on: dikaiosune, theaomai, eleemosune, nesteuo,

proseuchomai, salpingo, and hypokrites


The new Episcopalian Hymnal 1982 has two settings (EH

140,141) of John Donne's poem, "Wilt thou forgive that sin

where I begun"; the second of these,harmonized by J.S. Bach,

may be easier for congregational singing. LORD JESUS, SUN


ANXIOUS FEAR AND WORRY (EH 145) both look forward from the

penitential season to the goal of Easter. Also traditional



UNKNOWN (EH 458, LBW 94).

Exegete: Eugene V.N. Goetchius, Ph.D.,Th.D. now retired, was professor of Biblical Languages from 1963-1989, holding chairs simultaneously in the Episcopal Theological School and the Philadelphia Divinity School. He taught Greek and Hebrew and collaborated with colleagues from Harvard Divinity School and Weston School of Theology in teaching introductory courses in New Testament interpretation and exegesis. He wrote a Greek grammar book, The Language of the New Testament, with accompanying workbook; The Teaching of the Biblical Languages and The Gifts of God. He received his Th.D. in New Testament Studies from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Linguistics from the University of Virginia in 1949.

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

First Sunday in Lent | February 21, 2010
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16 (11)
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, you led your people through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide us now, so that, following your Son, we may walk safely through the wilderness of this world toward the life you alone can give, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

One does not live by | bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the | mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4)


1a. CONTEXT: LUKE 4:1-13

This text, the temptation of Jesus, is located at the

beginning of Lent, and the story itself is located in the

synoptics prior to the beginning of Jesus' public

ministry. All three synoptics use this story as Jesus'

preparation for public ministry following his Baptism.

Matthew and Luke interject a genealogy following the

Baptism and preceding the temptation story. Mark is brief

in describing the temptation story and merely says that

Jesus was tempted by Satan. Matthew and Luke expand on

the temptations describing three specific temptations. In

both, the first temptation comes after the narrative

states that Jesus fasted for forty days, and "that he was


Luke makes the second temptation related to all the

kingdoms of the world, and the third temptation is one of

personal safety for Jesus. Matthew has the last two

temptations reversed in order from Luke. Some contextual

items are quite obvious: Jesus in some kind of dialog

with Satan; The temptations forming a framework or stance

for all of Jesus' public ministry; Jesus' knowledge of

and comfort with quoting scripture (hence indicating a

rabbinical style of life); and the challenge of Satan to

Jesus to "prove who He is", by doing things that were

traditionally associated with messianic expectations.

Two other items need attention in the contextual

setting: Whereas Matthew and Mark end with the angels

ministering to Jesus, Luke--who has put the angels'

protection as the last temptation--makes no mention of the

angels ministering to Jesus; and ends this pericope with

the note that indicates there is more to come from the


1b. TEXT: LUKE 4:1-13


4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’ 11 and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

1Ἰησοῦς δὲ πλήρης πνεύματος ἁγίου ὑπέστρεψεν ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ 2ἡμέρας τεσσεράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου. καὶ οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις, καὶ συντελεσθεισῶν αὐτῶν ἐπείνασεν. 3Εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰπὲ τῷ λίθῳ τούτῳ ἵνα γένηται ἄρτος. 4καὶ ἀπεκρίθη πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Γέγραπται ὅτι Οὐκ ἐπ' ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος. 5Καὶ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτὸν ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τῆς οἰκουμένης ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου: 6καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ διάβολος, Σοὶ δώσω τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἅπασαν καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν, ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν θέλω δίδωμι αὐτήν: 7σὺ οὖν ἐὰν προσκυνήσῃς ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ, ἔσται σοῦ πᾶσα. 8καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Γέγραπται, Κύριον τὸν θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις. 9Ἤγαγεν δὲ αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ ἔστησεν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν ἐντεῦθεν κάτω: 10γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι Τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε, 11καὶ ὅτι Ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσίν σε μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. 12καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι Εἴρηται, Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου. 13Καὶ συντελέσας πάντα πειρασμὸν ὁ διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπ' αὐτοῦ ἄχρι καιροῦ.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: LUKE 4:1-13

1-2 Iesous de pleires pneumatos hagiou - This

describes in two sentences (RSV) the time Jesus spent in

the wilderness. Not only was he full of the Holy Spirit,

but he was led by the Spirit throughout the wilderness

time. Schweizer suggests that those who are possessed by

the Spirit are most vulnerable to temptation. Mark

suggests that Jesus was driven by the Spirit. The forty

days may be a standard literary device to make the

unconscious connection with the commonly known religious

stories of trial and judgment: the Exodus and the Noah

story. Note that Luke uses the noun "diabolon" throughout

his pericope, for the evil one, rather than the proper

noun. Also there is a hint that the temptations may come

at the end of the wilderness fast, for "when they were

ended, he was hungry." After this statement Luke

describes the temptation to satisfy hunger.

3-4 Eipen de auto ho diabolos - This is the first

temptation. At first reading it seems to be a temptation

to satisfy a physical need--hunger. But the first phrase

is a direct challenge to Jesus's identity and mission.

Vincent Taylor's work on the Names of Jesus places much

significance on the titles given to Jesus. In this case,

the devil uses the title Son of God. In both OT and NT

precedent, this is a title given to someone who has the

power to reveal God. This use of the title can be seen as

the challenge of evil to God.

Note the stylistic formula denoting Jesus' response

according to the RSV:

"And Jesus answered (apekrithei) him." NIV simply says:

"Jesus answered." But the words in the Greek NT are not

exactly the same in all three responses: Verses 4, 8 and

12. Jesus' response is a quote from the manna story

(Deuteronomy 8:3b), and certainly the literary connection

is made between this event and the provision of manna in

the wilderness.

5-8 Kai anagagon auon edeixen auo pasas tas basileias

teis oikoumeneis - The Second temptation does not begin

with a challenge to God but puts Jesus in the World. It

is here that the devil appears to have control and the

ability to give something to Jesus, for a price. "in a

moment of time" is an interesting phrase, that must be a

standard idiomatic expression. Jesus' response is the

Creed of Judaism: The Shema.

9-12 epi to pterugion - The Third temptation combines

the tactics of the two previous temptations: It places

Jesus in a precarious position, and it challenges his

identity. Furthermore, the devil also quotes scripture.

This also places Jesus in the "religious" setting, i.e. at

the Temple. This is at once both a lofty challenge, yet

almost ludicrous in its absurdity.

These three temptations not only represent rather

traditional challenges of evil to God, there is in Luke's

version a powerful, yet subtle, building of the momentum

and power of the temptations. In the first temptation it

is the devil and Jesus' hunger that depict a personal

struggle. The second temptation involves the whole world,

and the devil's presumed ownership. The third temptation

uses a religious context, and all the challenges to

identity, and even Jesus' method of quoting scripture, for

an issue of personal safety.

13 ho diabolos apeste ap autou archi kairou - Luke

gives the impression that every kind of temptation has

been tried on Jesus, but that the devil has not yet given

up. For the devil there is a "kairos," just as there is a

"kairos" for God, Jesus and God's people.

3. STRATEGY: LUKE 4:1-13

In the classical homiletical style of a generation

ago, this text is perfect! It is complete with

Introduction (tell them what you are going to tell them),

three main points (tell them), and conclusion (tell them

what you told them). Probably each one of us would do

well to preach this style of sermon at least once on this

text. But it is full of many other possibilities that

cannot be overlooked.

This text describes what it means to be "driven." In

Jesus' case, he is driven by the Holy Spirit. This would

provide an entry point for dialog with "type A"

personalities, and possibly open up the pitfalls of such a

personality type. Most of the time we characterize "type

A's" with a subtle negativity; but here is the opportunity

to affirm and to connect in a meaningful and theological


A second issue that this text raises is the matter of

identity. Jesus has to prove he is God, and to prove

himself in the face of evil. Do we have to prove we are

good mothers by making certain that our children always

have what they want to eat? Do we have to prove we are

good fathers by giving our children everything they could

ever ask for?

Do we have to prove our authority by ordering a secretary

to bring a cup of coffee, or to pick up our laundry?

A third way of approaching this text would be to look

at the redundant phrases as common punctuation or starting

expressions. "And Jesus Answered, It is Written..." How

do we react when confronted by the challenges of

life--challenges that will detract us from our mission, or

even destroy our effectiveness?

A fourth way of dealing with this text is to take the

devil's stance. What things would most easily attract

someone away from their purpose in life? The preacher

could even write some letters in the manner of C.S.Lewis.

John Killinger says each temptation was "extremely

basic to human nature." (page 31) The temptations were

"for bread, for glory and for religious certainty." (page

32) A fifth way of dealing with this text would be to

select the most basic or commonly expressed needs in your

specific community and do a l980's version of the story.

For some it might be a lifetime contract for employment, a

stated recognition factor (a month's vacation after 10

years, a silver watch after 25 years, and a gold ring

after 50 years), and having the company president know you

and always call you by your first name and ask about your




John Knox Press, Atlanta. l984.

Taylor, Vincent. THE NAMES OF JESUS. MacMillan,

London. 1954.


Gospel of Contagious Joy. Word Books, Waco. 1980.

Luecke, Richard. VIOLENT SLEEP; Notes Toward the Development of

Sermons for the Modern City. Fortress Press, Philadelphia. 1969.

Craddock, Fred. PREACHING. Abingdon Press, Nashville. 1985.


Hymn: "O Lord, Throughout these forty days" (HB

142, LBW 99) sets the theme in a traditional mode.

Hymn: "Breathe on me, Breath of God" (HB 508, LBW

488) could well be used in reference to the "Filled by

the Spirit" theme.

I cannot overlook the rich possibilities in the other

lessons: Psalm 91 describes the confidence of one "filled with the

Spirit". Deuteronomy 26: 5-10 "The Wandering Aramean"

passage describes the test of the people of God.

Romans 10:8bff again picks up the theme of filling of the person

by the Spirit of God, and the subsequent confidence it produces.

Exegete: Dale I. Gregoriew, D.Min., a graduate of Princeton Seminary, continues as pastor of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Allen, Texas. He was sworn in on August 8, 2001, as chaplain of the Allen Police Department. He served for three years as associate chaplain before this promotion.

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