Readings for the First Sunday in Lent
Mark 1:9-15; James 1:12-18; Genesis 22:1-8
Testing day. It’s a day many students dread – even those who have studied long and hard and are prepared to do well. Sunday’s readings focus on the testing of our faith which is something God does so that our trust in Him might be exercised and grow (just like the muscles in our body). Temptation, on the other hand, is the work of Satan whose only goal is to undermine our trust in God and drive us away from Him.
Mark’s Gospel tells us how Jesus’ public ministry began – with a 40-day period of temptation in the wilderness at the hands of Satan. After making a successful stand, Jesus proves himself qualified to stand firm for us as our ally against the devil (Mk 1).
The Old Testament recounts Abraham’s test of faith, by the sacrificing of his only beloved son, Isaac. Child sacrifice was a common practice in Canaanite religion. Abraham learned that His God was different. God Himself provided the sacrifice – a statement that was ultimately fulfilled when Jesus died for us on the cross (Gen 22).
In the epistle lesson, James distinguishes the difference between God’s tests and Satan’s temptations. God is a loving Father who gives only the best. His desire is that we enjoy fellowship with Him for eternity (Js 1).