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Sunday 26 February 2023 Lent 1

Choices when tempted

Genesis 2:7-15, 3 :1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

By Linda Cronin

Rector, Parish of Glenavy, Diocese of Connor, Church of Ireland

Context: Morning Worship in a rural village, for mixed ages

Aim: to consider the choices we make when we are tempted

As I was pondering these very familiar Bible passages as we begin our season of Lent, I was drawn much to my own surprise to my summer holiday in England last year, when we took our six-year-old granddaughter to the Roald Dahl Museum. Prior to our visit, we watched together the original version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Chocolate is often something folk give up for Lent, or what those outside our Church community might think we give up for the season. Obviously, we know it is much more than this!

But back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is as you probably know the story of a young boy called Charlie who — along with a few other children — wins a Golden Ticket, with the potential of finally owning the chocolate factory. As the story progresses, the children are taken through the chocolate factory and are faced with different temptations, each one giving in to one of them, leaving Charlie eventually securing the chocolate factory as his own. Charlie was focused on the end goal of winning the chocolate factory and the difference that would make and unlike his peers, didn’t give in to temptations along the way.


We find the story of the first temptation recorded in Scripture in the book of Genesis. The picture is painted . . . God has completed His creation and we find Adam and Eve, surrounded by the beauty of that creation, ‘trees pleasing to the eye and good for food’ (v9), ‘a river watering the garden’, (v10), and they are given the simple instructions ‘to work it and take care of it’. They are also told not to eat the fruit of the trees. Simple? One would have thought so! Being in the presence of God and surrounded by the beauty of His creation. But as we know, this was not the case, and they gave into temptation. They thought they knew best!


In the Gospel reading today we find Jesus in the wilderness being tempted. We can imagine, the wilderness: not a nice place and certainly not the most comfortable of places to be. Yet here we read of how Jesus, in the toughest of places, stood firm and didn’t give into temptation. Surely, when hungry it would have been easy to give in and be fed. Or when being taunted about his authority and position to give in and show the tempter just what power He had. Or when being challenged about what was His by right to give in and show the tempter, just who He was. But Jesus stood firm in the toughest of situations, knowing who He was and whose He was, and the Word of God sustained Him.


In the reading from Romans, we see how Jesus has solved the problem. Jesus is the second Adam, and because of Jesus, and through God’s grace and mercy we can begin again (and again and again) because ‘For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous (v19).’

So, is the answer so simple? Well, indeed the simple answer is Jesus! Jesus has solved the problem of temptation and demonstrates that in the Gospel. Jesus shows us how to resist temptation, even in the toughest of situations, by standing firm in His strength and on the Word of God. But we are human and often give into temptation.

Let’s take a step back to where we began, with Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Charlie was focused on the end goal of winning the chocolate factory and the difference that would make and therefore didn’t give into the temptations along the way.

As we journey through Lent (with or without chocolate), let us focus on our end goal, of remaining faithful to Jesus and following Him through even the toughest of times, focusing on our end goal, eternal life with Him forever.

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